ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will host the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of Governments meeting in October this year, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said on Thursday.
During her weekly press briefing, she stated that before the October summit, there would be a ministerial meeting and multiple rounds of senior officials meetings to concentrate on fostering cooperation in finance, economics, socio-cultural affairs and humanitarian efforts among SCO member countries.
She highlighted that 2024 marks a significant juncture in Pakistan’s relationship with the SCO, with Pakistan assuming the rotational Chairmanship of the SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG), the organization’s second most critical decision-making body.
She told the media that Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and senior cabinet members recently visited Kazakhstan for the SCO Council of Heads of State and SCO Plus Summits in Kazakhstan and also Tajikistan to a bilateral visit.
During the SCO Summit in Astana, the prime minister also participated in the inaugural Pakistan-Azerbaijan-Turkey Trilateral Summit.
In Dushanbe, the focus of his meetings was enhancing comprehensive cooperation between Pakistan and Tajikistan on regional and global issues of mutual interest.
During the visit, Pakistan and Tajikistan signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement, which includes scheduled high-level dialogues involving leaders and Foreign Ministers.
She said the government has allowed medical students from Gaza to complete their medical education in Pakistan. The decision was made on the directions of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar by the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) to enable Gaza students to continue their medical education in Pakistan on humanitarian grounds.
She said the Palestinian students from Gaza in batches of 20-30 will soon join medical colleges in Pakistan. The decision will enable Gaza students to complete their medical education in Pakistan in the fields of cardiology, orthopaedics, oncology, paediatrics and surgery to address the critical needs in Gaza’s health care system.
Commenting on recent International Religious Freedom report, she expressed that unilateral reports assessing other countries’ human rights situations were not free from political bias and presented an incomplete and distorted picture. The methodology adopted in preparing these reports and the mandate and expertise of its authors are not transparent, she added.
“It is unfortunate that the report refers to certain incidents in Pakistan last year without highlighting the strong political will shown by the government to hold the perpetrators accountable as well as the remedial efforts undertaken and the legal and administrative protections in place for religious minorities.”
It cannot be viewed from the lens of any single country’s social and legal perspective, she said.
She told the media that the Indian authorities’ campaign to crush dissent in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) remained relentless. She told a prominent Kashmiri lawyer and former President of the High Court Bar Association, Mian Abdul Qayoom has recently been arrested on fabricated charges. He suffers from multiple chronic ailments and old age.
“His arrest is a clear act of political vendetta. We urge the Indian authorities to release Mian Abdul Qayoom and thousands of other Kashmiri political prisoners, dissenters and human rights defenders.”
The spokesperson said Pakistan will continue to extend political, diplomatic and moral support to our Kashmiri people for the just and peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions.
Commenting on Pak-India relations, she said Pakistan and India exchanged lists of prisoners in each other’s custody in pursuance of the Consular Access Agreement of 2008.
She said Pakistan handed over a list of 254 Indian or believed-to-be-Indian civilian prisoners and fishermen in Pakistani jails. India shared a list of 452 Pakistani or believed-to-be-Pakistani civilian prisoners and fishermen in Indian jails.
A list of 38 missing Pakistani defence personnel, believed to be in India’s custody since the wars of 1965 and 1971, was also handed over by Pakistan.
She said Pakistan is committed to addressing these humanitarian matters as a matter of priority. Last year, Pakistan released 485 Indian nationals including 06 civil prisoners and 479 fishermen.
“We will also continue endeavors to ensure the early return of all Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails. As part of these efforts, the repatriation of 62 Pakistani prisoners in 2023, and 04 in 2024, have taken place,” she said.
The spokesperson highlighted the participation of Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghanistan Ambassador Asif Ali Khan Durrani along with a delegation in the Doha-III meeting of Special Envoys on Afghanistan, held under the UN auspices in Doha from 30 June to 2 July 2024.
She said Ambassador Durrani presented Pakistan’s perspective on the current situation in Afghanistan. He underscored Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan to alleviate its economic situation and highlighted the threat posed by TTP-led terrorist activities originating from sanctuaries inside Afghanistan.
Vowing stable Afghanistan she said, a bilateral meeting between Pakistan and the Afghan Interim Government was held on 1 July 2024. The two sides exchanged views on key issues of mutual concern, including peace and security.



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