PR No.217
Intervention by the Foreign Minister for the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) – “Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth”
Islamabad: November 25, 2021

Honourable Chair, Heads of Delegation, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government of Pakistan as well as on my own behalf, I thank the Government of Cambodia for hosting the 13th ASEM Summit (ASEM13). We also commend all ASEM members for the spirit of cooperation that has enabled this unique bi-regional forum to be a useful platform for dialogue on important regional and global issues with a view to harmonize our approaches for effective response to those challenges. The Summit’s theme “Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth” truly embodies the transcontinental ambition to build a prosperous and sustainable future for our peoples. Indeed, only through cooperative multilateralism, can we overcome the complex and interlinked threats and challenges of today. It is more than evident that we need to revert to and revitalize multilateralism in order to promote global peace and stability. The limits of coercive and unilateral policies have been exposed time and again. Sustainable peace can only be achieved by collective and coordinated action. The Covid-19 pandemic and its multidimensional health and socio-economic consequences have proved that such intertwined problems cannot be addressed by countries acting alone. We need to work together more than ever before and strengthen multilateralism to address the threats posed by pandemics, climate change, poverty alleviation, terrorism, migration from conflict zones, civil strife, transnational organized crime, security of trade routes, cyber crimes, and abuse of social media. Conflict prevention and resolution is our shared objective. We must address the root causes of conflicts, especially longstanding unresolved disputes that continue to threaten international peace and security, and are characterized by egregious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Palestine and Jammu & Kashmir are glaring examples. Distinguished participants, Terrorism and violent extremism are global phenomena. The international community requires comprehensive, coherent and effective responses based on greater cooperation as well as understanding of the underlying causes. Terrorism cannot be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. Pakistan has been in the forefront of international efforts to combat terrorism. We have contributed immensely to the success of this endeavour. But this has come at a great cost: over 80,000 causalities and more than 150 billion US$ in losses to our economy. Yet, we remain resolute. Let me take this opportunity to draw your attention towards the situation in Afghanistan. For Pakistan, as the immediate neighbor that has suffered for 40 years from conflict and instability next door, a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is of paramount importance. And all our efforts in support of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan over the years have been guided by that imperative. Security and well-being of all Afghans is the top most priority. This is a pivotal moment in Afghanistan’s history. We must clearly recognize the challenges and the opportunities. There is, finally, an opportunity to end the 40-year war and enable all Afghans to reconcile and rebuild. Our message is clear: Past mistakes must not be repeated. Afghanistan must not be abandoned. A humanitarian crisis and economic collapse in Afghanistan will have enormous consequences for the rest of the world. The international community must, therefore, remain positively engaged to avert a crisis, and to advance our shared objectives of peace, security, development and connectivity. Distinguished delegates, Connectivity cuts across the three pillars of ASEM and for Pakistan, it is of utmost importance in the context of our policy shift from geo-politics to geo-economics based on peace and security, development partnerships and connectivity. Regional connectivity remains fundamental to Pakistan’s pivot to geo-economics. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with its flagship project; the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) traversing Pakistan and connecting South Asia to China, Central Asia, the Middle East as well as Europe and Africa through the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar will enhance connectivity in our broader region. It will not only provide high speed corridors from far-flung areas to port cities, reducing travel time and operating costs, but will also create more jobs for the whole region enhancing the levels of prosperity. Distinguished delegates, In accordance with ASEM’s principles of informality, flexibility, mutual respect in the spirit of consensus, equal partnership and mutual benefit, we should more proactively promote socio-cultural and educational exchanges among the citizens of our countries. This will boost linkages and augment the impact and visibility of ASEM. This will increase the understanding of different cultural, national and social perspectives and promote our common vision of multilateralism to help us better tackle the common challenges together. Let me also underline here that the challenges women continue to face around the world not only relate to fundamental issues of equality, but have become an impediment to the growth of our communities. While commendable work has been done globally, at national as well as multilateral levels, we must do more and step up and revitalise our collective efforts for gender equality and mainstreaming thus enabling women and girls to contribute effectively to national development. I am hopeful that our increased cooperation would contribute to global peace and stability. It will also help secure a better future for our region and the world.
I thank you all!
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