India Condemns Terrorism Double Standards at SCO, Emphasizes Regional Connectivity

Last Updated on May 26, 2024 2:15 pm

In a forceful address at the Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers in Astana, Kazakhstan, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Secretary for Economic Relations, Dammu Ravi, underscored India’s unwavering stance against terrorism and the necessity for uniform standards in its condemnation. This stance highlights India’s ongoing concerns about inconsistent global responses to terrorism, particularly with reference to Pakistan and China’s controversial roles.

Ravi’s speech at the May 21 meeting came at a critical time, emphasizing the importance of the SCO charter principles, especially the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states. These comments appear to subtly criticize China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its associated China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passes through contested territories, infringing on India’s territorial claims in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK).

“Strong connectivity is crucial for the progress of any region,” Ravi stated, pointing to the need for infrastructure projects that respect national borders. He specifically highlighted Iran’s membership in the SCO, noting its potential to enhance regional trade via the Chabahar Port and the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), thereby offering landlocked Central Asian countries access to the Indian Ocean. Ravi also mentioned the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) as a vital initiative for regional prosperity.

Ravi reiterated India’s commitment to combating terrorism without compromise. “There should be no place for double standards on such serious matters,” he declared, calling out Pakistan for its support of cross-border terrorism and China for blocking UN resolutions to designate certain individuals as global terrorists. He stressed that the fight against terrorism, including its financing and cross-border implications, requires decisive, unified action from all SCO members.

In addition to his strong anti-terrorism message, Ravi congratulated Kazakhstan on its SCO presidency and expressed gratitude for India’s inclusion as a member in 2017 during Kazakhstan’s leadership. He also conveyed condolences for the tragic death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian in a recent helicopter crash, acknowledging Iran’s new membership and its strategic importance.

Ravi’s address also touched on the situation in Afghanistan, which remains a critical concern for regional security. He urged SCO countries to collaborate for the stability and well-being of Afghanistan, ensuring that its territory is not used to foment instability or extremist ideologies.

Highlighting India’s role within the SCO, Ravi mentioned India’s past presidency and its initiatives, including promoting startups, traditional medicine, and digital inclusion. He noted that the fourth edition of the SCO Startup Forum held in March 2024 exemplified India’s efforts to foster innovation and cooperation among member states.

Ravi also advocated for the modernization of the SCO, suggesting that English be adopted as one of the organization’s official languages to enhance its efficiency and global stature. He proposed India’s support in this regard through capacity-building programs via the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) courses.

In conclusion, Ravi’s remarks at the SCO meeting not only reinforced India’s commitment to combating terrorism but also underscored the importance of respecting sovereignty in regional connectivity projects. By advocating for consistent international standards and highlighting the need for cooperative regional development, India aims to strengthen its strategic and ethical position in the SCO and beyond.

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