National Security Adviser to represent Pakistan at SCO summit


Islamabad : The political crisis confronting the Pakistani government has compelled Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to nominate National Security Adviser (NSA) Mehmud Ali Durrani instead of the foreign minister to represent the country at this week’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.

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The day-long summit that will focus on strategic and security issues is scheduled Thursday in Tajik capital Dushanbe.

“Initially, indications from the official quarters were that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi would lead the Pakistani delegation,” The News reported Monday.

“However, due to recent political developments and a crucial resolution on the judges’ restoration expected to be tabled in the National Assembly this week, a decision was taken at the highest level to send Durrani instead,” the newspaper added, quoting diplomatic sources.

Pakistan has been invited to the summit as an observer nation. India too has similar status with the organisation.

Durrani, who previously served as ambassador to the US, will make a statement at the plenary session and, in the sidelines, is expected to meet the Chinese and Iranian presidents who will be attending the summit.

“The question of the expansion of the organisation is also expected to be taken up by the SCO leaders at the summit. It is believed that accession criteria are currently being reviewed to provide for admission of new members,” The News said.

“An important proposal likely to be approved by the heads of state of the member countries pertains to the real involvement of observers and other interested countries, which may become dialogue partners in practical work within the SCO framework,” it added.

Last month, the SCO foreign ministers, at a meeting in Dushanbe, endorsed a regulation that envisages the involvement of observer countries in the SCO structure.

“They also agreed to a proposal on the SCO dialogue partners that will allow all the interested countries to interact with the organisation and participate in all its activities, projects and meetings,” The News said.

The SCO comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. It has observer status with the UN and has established close contacts with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the European Union, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, and other international organisations.

Besides Pakistan and India, Iran and Mongolia too have observer status with SCO.