Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi participated in the Asia and Pacific High-Level Video Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation, hosted by China on Thursday. Wang Yi, state councilor and foreign minister of China, chaired the conference in which foreign ministers of a large number of BRI partner countries participated.
Speaking at the conference, Foreign Minister Qureshi highlighted the importance of multilateral cooperation in combating Covid-19. He said that fruitful cooperation in combating Covid-19 for timely economic rebound would require sharing experiences and best practices; enhancing the availability, accessibility and affordability of vaccines through joint research and production; and calling for preferential financing from multilateral development institutions for developing countries.
The foreign minister further said that “the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic are a great opportunity not only to rebuild better, but also greener”. He stressed that “we must seize this opportunity to transform our economies into ones that are development-oriented and environmentally sustainable. The developed countries must fulfill their commitments under the Paris Agreement to support developing countries in their climate action and to mobilise 100 billion US Dollars annually in climate finance as they have promised”.
The foreign minister underlined that Pakistan followed a ‘smart lockdowns’ policy and adopted the three–pronged strategy focused on ‘Saving Lives, Securing Livelihoods, and Stimulating the Economy’ to successfully fight the pandemic. To target the vulnerable segments of the population, the government disbursed Rs203 billion to 15 million families through its ‘Ehsas Emergency Cash Programme’. He also underlined that Pakistan has launched a vaccination drive that will cover 70 million people by December 2021. Pakistan has also launched the ‘Green Economic Stimulus Initiative’. This stimulus has already generated 85,000 green jobs and it is planned to increase by another 100,000 by the end of this year. This reflects our commitment to counter environmental degradation and reversing biodiversity loss.
The foreign minister emphasized Pakistan’s shift of focus from geo-politics to geo-economics. He added that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, complements Pakistan’s efforts of geo-economic shift with emphasis on economic integration and regional connectivity. Moreover, in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ‘Green Vision’, which aligns perfectly with President Xi Jinping’s vision for Green China, turning CPEC into Green CPEC, is a priority for Pakistan.
The thematic focus of the conference was on underscoring the imperative of global cooperation in combating the pandemic to support economic resilience; and promoting a Green Silk Road for sustainable development. The conference was attended by ministers of 30 countries and representatives of six international organisations.
Meanwhile, Minister for Planning Asad Umar said that decisions about vaccine acceptability must be taken by global institutions.
“vaccine acceptability decisions have to be taken by a global institution like WHO. Each country deciding which vaccine is acceptable for travel to that country is creating chaos. The health & well being of world citizens cannot become hostage to global geo strategic rivalries,” he tweeted.