Cross-border terrorism must be curbed, says Jaishankar at SCO meet

India presses for reform of SCO, reiterates call for English as third official language; brief handshake and namaste only public interaction with Pakistan Foreign Minister

Team Parvasi – Inside

Cross-border terrorism must be curbed, says Jaishankar at SCO meet

Benaulim (Goa): India on Friday reminded members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) that the menace of terrorism continues unabated and taking their eyes off this problem will be detrimental to their security interests. With Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in the audience, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar called for stopping terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism. “The channel of financing for terrorist activities must be seized and blocked without distinction,’’ he said in his opening address at the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting being held here.

Though Jaishankar held several bilaterals on Thursday with more in the offing on Friday, he has not yet met Bilawal. A brief handshake and a namaste while posing for a joint photograph with Bilawal was the only public interaction between the two ministers. This is the first visit to India by a Pakistani Foreign Minister for which India had approved a direct flight path from Islamabad to Goa.

In a message to China, whose Foreign Minister Qin Gang will travel to Pakistan and meet the Interim Taliban Foreign Minister Maulawi Amir Khan Muttaqi along with Bilawal, Jaishankar wanted all efforts to be directed towards the welfare of the Afghan people. “Our immediate priorities should be providing human assistance in ensuring a truly representative government combating terrorism and drug trafficking and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities.

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Due to the Covid pandemic and geopolitical upheavels, the minister pointed out that the world is today facing a multitude of challenges. These events have disrupted global supply chains leading to serious disruption in food, energy and fertilisers leading to a cascading effect on developing nations. It has also exposed a credibility and trust deficit in the ability of global institutions to manage challenges in a timely and efficient manner, he pointed out.

“These challenges are also an opportunity for the SCO to collaborate and address them collectively. With over 40 per cent of the humanity represented by SCO our collective decisions will have a global impact,’’ he observed.

The minister also pressed for the reform and modernisation of the SCO which is in its third decade of existence. “This is an opportune time for reform and modernisation to keep the organisation relevant in a rapidly transforming world. Discussions on reform and modernisation have already commenced and India will extend its active and constructive support,’’ he assured the other seven SCO members including Russia, China and Pakistan.

The minister once again sought support for India’s long-standing demand to make English an official language of SCO in order to facilitate deeper engagement with English-speaking member states of SCO and take the work to a wider global audience. Many of the nations which will join SCO either as full members or dialogue partners are more familiar with English than the two official languages – Russian and Chinese.

He said a Delhi Declaration will be issued at the end of the meeting along with four other thematic statements. “India’s priorities moving towards a secure SCO with economic development, connectivity and unity have remained our priority during India’s chair of SCO,’’ he observed.

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