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India calls for fight against terrorism and respect for sovereignty at SCO Summit

Jaishankar highlighted that combating terrorism is a fundamental goal of the SCO, stressing on that many member countries have faced threats from beyond their borders

At the recent (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) SCO Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar delivered a speech on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that focused on the need to combat terrorism and hold principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Jaishankar highlighted that combating terrorism is a fundamental goal of the SCO, stressing on that many member countries have faced threats from beyond their borders. He warned that unchecked terrorism causes serious danger to regional and global peace, implicitly referencing concerns about cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.

Modi’s Remarks at the SCO Summit on Connectivity and Trust

India also emphasised the importance of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity in connectivity projects, a reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India has consistently opposed the CPEC, as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), and has raised concerns about the lack of a fair playing field in BRI projects.

The text of Modi’s remarks that economic development relies on strong connectivity, which in turn builds trust among societies. “Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is crucial for connectivity and infrastructure projects. Non-discriminatory trade rights and fair transit regimes are equally important. The SCO needs to seriously consider these aspects,” Jaishankar said.

SCO Summit
Image Source: Drishti IAS

The SCO, described as a principle based organisation, operates on consensus among its nine member states. The speech restates the group’s commitment to important principles such as sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, equality, mutual benefit, non-interference in internal affairs, and non-use of force or threat of force.

India’s statings also touched on the need for a fair and inclusive international order, advocating for reforms in the United Nations and its Security Council. Jaishankar called for creating reliable and resilient supply chains and expressed India’s willingness to partner with other countries, particularly from the Global South, to build capacity and cooperation.

Addressing the situation in Afghanistan, Jaishankar emphasised India’s long-standing ties and commitment to supporting the Afghan people through education, training, and capacity building initiatives. He also mentioned the progress made on the Chabahar port in Iran as a positive step towards improving regional connectivity and economic collaboration.

Reflecting on India’s contributions to the SCO, Jaishankar noted various cultural and collaborative events hosted by India, such as the SCO Millet Food Festival and the SCO Film Festival. He expressed India’s commitment to supporting similar initiatives by other member states.

The summit was attended by nine member states including India, China, Russia, and Pakistan, as well as the newly joined Belarus, and was hosted by Kazakhstan in its role as the current chair of the SCO. The SCO, based in Beijing, is an economic and security organisation with a growing influence across the region.

Jaishankar concluded by congratulating Kazakhstan on successfully hosting the summit and extended best wishes to China for its upcoming SCO presidency. He also conveyed condolences for the tragic passing of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and others in a recent helicopter crash.

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