Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the key to unlock the geo-economic potential of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) region lay in greater connectivity among the member States and proposed transition to national currencies by setting up SCO Development Bank. Addressing the Meeting of the Council of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Foreign Ministers, the foreign minister said the collective vision of SCO would reach fruition through effective inter-SCO collaboration in connectivity and development of transport links through air, road and sea. SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov, Director Executive Committee SCO-Regional Anti Terrorists Structures Jumakhon Giyasov, Foreign Minister of host Tajikistan Sirojiddin Muhriddin and other foreign ministers of SCO member States participated in the meeting. The foreign minister said Pakistan viewed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a unique template for interstate relations within the Eurasian Heartland, that brought together nearly 44 percent of global population, a quarter of global GDP, and three-fifths of the total Eurasian territory. During COVID-19, he said the SCO member states rose to counter the challenge and especially commend China and Russia for their role in the collective crisis. He said to overcome the challenges arising out of the pandemic, Pakistan supported the initiatives of e-commerce, digital economies, sharing of experiences and practices in innovation and new technologies. On regional security, he said SCO-led mechanisms had resulted in significant success in dealing with the common challenges of terrorism, separatism, extremism, illicit trafficking of drugs, as well as transnational organized crime. He mentioned that Pakistan was contributing through participation in joint border exercises and joint anti-terrorism exercises as well as through collective action in the fight against narcotics and their precursors. He said stability and peace in Afghanistan had a bearing on regional security in the SCO space. As a shared responsibility, he said, Pakistan had played its part in facilitating the peace process aimed at forging a comprehensive, broad based and inclusive, negotiated political solution that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. He expressed serious concern over the unfolding situation in the wake of withdrawal of US and NATO troops and in the absence of a peace deal. “A specter of chaos and escalated conflict looms large that would also give space to the ‘spoilers’ who wish to see the reign of instability in Afghanistan and the region,” he said. He called upon all Afghan parties to engage constructively and work for a negotiated political solution. “Pakistan has been and will always be a partner for peace. We stand ready to work with SCO member states in reinforcing efforts for sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said. Qureshi said SCO was a vital platform to forge closer ties with regional partners and to realize the potential of the emerging confluence between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Eurasian Economic Union. He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which was the flagship project of BRI, supplemented SCO’s vision of regional connectivity and economic integration. He suggested the SCO family to focus on collective economic development, promote business partnerships and empowerment of women in different walks of life. He also proposed establishment of SCO Women Entrepreneurs Forum as a platform to bring together women in business, trade and creative arts to forge a strong SCO identity. Qureshi also called for constituting a Women Parliamentarians Caucus from SCO countries. As representatives of the people, he said, women parliamentarians offer a unique perspective and leadership style that adds value and depth to governance mechanisms.