Interview: Pakistani scholar says economic development from B&R Initiative to complement SCO agenda

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-30 10:41:14|Editor: pengying
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by Liu Tian

ISLAMABAD, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- The envisaged economic development brought by the China-proposed Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative is going to complement the agenda of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Pakistani expert said ahead of a key SCO conference to be held in Russia.

Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, an associate professor of politics and international relations with Pakistan's Quaid-i-Azam University, told Xinhua in a recent interview that the SCO, with its primary focus on eliminating extremism, terrorism and separatism in the region, has an interest in the B&R Initiative since sustainable development is the best way to get rid of extremism and terrorism.

The B&R Initiative "is very productive and economically very attractive. It is once again a revivalism of international liberal economic order when we go for connectivity," Jaspal said.

The 16th meeting of the Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) of the SCO is set to start on Nov. 30 in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The SCO members "have a convergence of interest if you see that the best way to get or the permanent way to get rid of this extremism and terrorism" is a sustainable economic growth, and for this reason they would want projects such as the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, a significant part of the B&R infrastructure network.

Jaspal praised China's constructive performance in the SCO both when it held the rotating presidency or as an active member, saying that the country has been trying to bring the SCO members together on the same platform and provided a vision that the members can get rid of extremism through economic development.

Pakistan, which became a full member of the SCO earlier this year, will benefit not only from the SCO's increasing focus on the economic agenda, but also the regional group's fundamental task in the security domain, said Jaspal.

The country, which has been fighting terrorism for the past 17 years, could share its experiences in fighting against terrorism with other SCO members, while it can also learn from the others since they all face the challenges of terrorism, extremism and separatism, the Pakistani scholar added.

He expected that the SCO could help accelerate the peace process in Afghanistan, an observer of the group, by eliminating sanctuaries of Afghan militants so as to bring peace and stability to the country and the whole region.

"Frankly speaking, central Asian states, Chinese, Russians, Pakistanis, they all have a genuine interest in Afghanistan," he said.

He further said that the SCO will have a greater influence in the coming years if it could reach out to other regional organizations such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and Economic Cooperation Organization.

By doing so, "even if it limits itself with the same members in the next decade or two, the SCO's rise will be very much optimistic," he said.