FM calls for debt restructuring to counter economic challenges [DailyTimes] 07 Apr, 2020

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday stressed restructuring of Pakistan’s debts as it was vulnerable to economic challenges in the aftermath of coronavirus pandemic.He said due to the lockdown imposed in Pakistan to contain the coronavirus, the economic activity was suspended with decline in exports.The foreign minister mentioned that the proposal of Prime Minister Imran Khan for facilitation to the developing countries in payment of loans was being discussed at international forums. He directed the permanent representatives of Pakistan in New York and Geneva to make efforts in that regard.He also apprised the meeting of his telephonic conversations with the secretaries general of United Nations and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the foreign ministers of European and SAARC countries.The meeting was attended by Finance Adviser Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Permanent representatives Munir Akram and Khalil Hashmi from New York and Geneva respectively attended the meeting through the video-link.Meanwhile, Qureshi on Monday called for pooling of region-wide research capabilities to combat Coronavirus for effective coordination in relief and containment efforts.In a telephonic conversation with Secretary General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Vladimir Norov, Foreign Minister Qureshi said in order to strengthen regional cooperation in South Asia in the wake of the pandemic, Pakistan had proposed a video conference of SAARC Health Ministers to learn from each other’s experiences.The Foreign Minister briefed the Secretary General on the measures being taken by Pakistan to contain Covid-19 pandemic.He said Pakistan attached high importance to SCO as its member states comprised more than 40 percent of the world population and accounted for a quarter of global GDP.At a time when the entire world was facing this challenge, coordinated efforts through SCO platform were essential to adopt an effective strategy to control the pandemic, he added.Qureshi said China was providing valuable support to Pakistan in dealing with the pandemic.Underlining that China had led the way in effective containment, and a lot could be gained from the Chinese experience, the Foreign Minister appreciated SCO Secretariat’s role in disseminating timely information on China’s effective response to the pandemic.The Foreign Minister also lauded the Russian initiative to hold a video conference of the Experts of Health Ministries of SCO member states on April 1, 2020.Alluding to the adverse socio-economic ramifications of the crisis, Foreign Minister Qureshi highlighted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call for debt relief and restructuring for developing countries and said that he had discussed this issue with other leaders including the Secretary General of UN, the Secretary General of OIC and his counterparts from European countries.He expressed the hope that SCO would play an effective role in taking the proposal forward through its own platform.The SCO Secretary General thanked the Foreign Minister for the call. He expressed appreciation for the Prime Minister’s proposal for debt relief and restructuring for developing countries and said that financial support for developing countries was the need of the hour.The Secretary General conveyed his best wishes to the Government and people of Pakistan in successfully facing the challenge posed by the pandemic and reiterated his resolve to utilize all possible means to ensure effective use of SCO in coordinating efforts of Member States to combat the pandemic. The Foreign Minister invited the SCO Secretary General to visit Pakistan as soon as the situation permitted, which he accepted.

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