SCO In Its Third Decade: A Growing Force For A Better World.

From 28 to 29 July, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari attended the Meeting of the Council of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. This is the fifth attendance of the Pakistani Foreign Minister under this mechanism.

The SCO, originally the Shanghai Five, is in its third decade. It is now the largest regional cooperation organisation in terms of geographical coverage and population - three-fifths of the Eurasian continent and two-fifth of the world's population.

In the past twenty years, it has blazed a cooperation path that suits the region's reality, became a stabiliser of the Eurasian continent, and accumulated precious experience for establishing a fair and equitable regional and international order. It has traversed a fruitful journey, one of solidarity and cooperation, toward greater stability and prosperity.

It has created and practiced the Shanghai Spirit. As the undergirding values of the SCO and a key driver for its continued progress, the Shanghai Spirit advocates mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversity of civilisations and pursuit of common development. This sends a strong message of rejecting Cold-War mentality, zero-sum game or 'clash of civilisations', and of upholding a new model of partnership and dialogue, rather than alliance or confrontation. It also presents a new approach to handling state-to-state relations and meeting challenges of the times.

It has prioritised security cooperation on non-traditional security challenges. SCO members have continued to strengthen the pillars and architecture of regional security cooperation. In 2020 alone, competent authorities of SCO member states destroyed more than 50 terrorist groups and prevented more than 40 terrorist attacks, effectively cracking down on the 'three forces', i.e. terrorism, separatism and extremism, as well as drug trafficking and other transnational organized crimes.

SCO cooperation has also expanded to areas such as cyber-security, information and infectious diseases, which all testify to its commitment to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.

It has continued to uphold openness and inclusiveness. Keeping its door open, the SCO began to enlarge its membership in 2004 when Mongolia was admitted as its first observer state. Pakistan joined the SCO family as a full member in 2017. The organisation, from the 'Shanghai Five' to a big...

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