Parliamentary Assembly of Economic Cooperation Organization countries pass resolution condemning human rights violations by Israeli and Indian forces
Prime Minister Imran Khan and Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon on Wednesday called for a stable government in Afghanistan following the ongoing peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban, stressing that this was essential for regional peace and stability.
During a joint press conference in Islamabad, Khan reiterated that political instability in the war-torn state had a negative impact on its neighbors, including Pakistan and Tajikistan. A peaceful solution to the situation was beneficial for both countries, he added.
Referring to India-held Kashmir, the prime minister acknowledged that normalizing ties between Islamabad and Delhi would be very beneficial. “However,” he said, “to do so now would be tantamount to betraying the Kashmiri people.” He said that India must first revoke its illegal actions of Aug. 5, 2019, when it unilaterally abrogated Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status, before talks could resume to achieve peace.
At the occasion, Rahmon said that Tajikistan values its “brotherly relations” with Pakistan, and appreciated Islamabad’s efforts in maintaining peace in the region. He said both countries had achieved several agreements during his visit, including in the fields of education and defense. According to the Foreign Office, the two countries entered into 12 cooperation accords, including in trade, anti-corruption, infrastructure and culture.
Also on Wednesday, the prime minister addressed the concluding ceremony of the second conference of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Economic Cooperation Organization (PAECO). Comprising 10 states, including Turkey, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan, it was attended by parliamentary speakers of the member states.
Highlighting the significance of peaceful political transition in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of U.S. forces, he said it was essential for regional peace, connectivity and prosperity. “Otherwise 1989-like chaos will occur when Soviet Union’s forces had left and everyone knows what happened after it,” he warned.
The prime minister also urged the member states of PAECO to unite in tapping their economic potentials, stressing that it would yield collective regional progress and prosperity. “According to estimates, the combined population of these countries stood around 450 million, making this region a powerhouse,” he said and cited the example of the European Union as a great success of regional connectivity.
Lauding PAECO for passing a resolution to condemn atrocities of Israeli and Indian forces against the people of Palestine and Occupied Kashmir, he said it was in accordance with UNSC resolutions. He also urged the ECO member states to strengthen their ties, uniting to combat the adverse impact of global warming, including on the glacial areas of the Asian states.
In a subsequent joint declaration, PAECO states reaffirmed solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine and India-held Jammu and Kashmir and condemned their gross human rights violations. They also underscored PAECO’s importance for supporting ECO’s objective of promoting socioeconomic development and urged the remaining member states to sign/ratify its charter.
Deploring the use of unilateral economic sanctions in violation of the U.N. Charter and international laws, they expressed support to member states affected by such illegal tools and welcomed Afghanistan’s offer to host the third general conference of PAECO in 2022 in Kabul.
Recognizing that trade was vital for sustainable socioeconomic development and to boost economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the joint declaration underscored the importance of transit trade, reducing the cost of doing business, and financial infrastructure in expanding intra-regional trade volumes. It also encouraged member states to take steps for implementation of regional infrastructural projects under ECO Transit Trade Framework Agreement and the operationalization of ECO corridors.
It also acknowledged the role of tourism in strengthening people-to-people contact, cultural cooperation and regional development and invited relevant authorities of member states to facilitate intra-regional tourism by promoting exchange programs, health tourism, linkages among professional bodies, and facilitating visa arrangements and relaxing visa insurance. The summit also underlined the importance of women’s participation in socioeconomic development and suggested a web-portal for women entrepreneurs and exchange of delegates, in addition to organizing exhibitions and training workshops.