Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member countries in New Delhi on Friday (All images courtesy: PIB)
In a veiled jibe at Pakistan, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday that a nation sheltering terrorists not only poses a threat to others but is pushing itself towards doom, as well.
Addressing the Defence Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member countries in New Delhi, Singh said, “If a nation shelters terrorists, it not only poses a threat to others, but for itself too. Radicalisation of youth is a cause of concern not only from the point of view of security, but it is also a major obstacle in the path of socio-economic progress of society.”
“If we want to make the SCO a stronger and more credible international organisation, our top-most priority should be to effectively deal with terrorism,” said the Defence Minister.
Singh pointed out that any kind of terrorist act or support to it in any form is a major crime against humanity and peace and prosperity cannot coexist with this menace.
He called on the grouping to collectively work towards eliminating terrorism in all its forms and fix accountability on those who aid or fund such activities.
In his address, the Defence Minister made it clear that India envisions a robust framework of regional cooperation which mutually respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member states by taking care of their legitimate interests.
Defence Ministers of China (General Li Shangfu); Russia (General Sergei Shoigu); Iran (Brig Gen Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiani); Belarus (Lt Gen Khrenin VG); Kazakhstan (Col Gen Ruslan Zhaxylykov); Uzbekistan (Lt Gen Bakhodir Kurbanov); Kyrgyzstan (Lt Gen Bekbolotov Baktybek Asankalievich) and Tajikistan (Col Gen Sherali Mirzo) attended the meeting.
Pakistan Defence Minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif, who was scheduled to attend the meeting virtually, skipped the forum and the country was represented by Malik Ahmed Khan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) Shehbaz Sharif on Defence Affairs.
Singh emphasised that New Delhi strives to further bolster trust and cooperation among the members of the SCO as it believes in maintaining peace and security based on the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.
Last month, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval also pointed to terror financing as “among the most serious threats to international peace and security” during a meeting of the National Security Advisors of the eight-nation SCO grouping.
India’s strong stance on the issue comes as New Delhi gets ready to host the SCO Summit in July. Ahead of the leaders’ summit, the SCO foreign ministers will meet in Goa on May 4-5.
The SCO comprises India, China, Russia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, covering most of Eurasia. Iran became the ninth member of the grouping this month.
The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the SCO is responsible for coordinating activities in the field of combating terrorism, separatism and extremism in the SCO region.
On Friday, Defence Minister Singh also elaborated on the ‘SECURE’ concept floated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2018 SCO Summit in Qingdao. He stated that every alphabet of the word ‘SECURE’ reflects India’s commitment towards the multi-dimensional welfare of the region.
Addressing mediapersons after the meeting, Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane stated that all the member nations arrived at a consensus on several areas of cooperation, including dealing with terrorism, security of vulnerable populations in various countries as well as HADR.
He stated that all member states were unanimous in their statements that terrorism, in all its forms, must be condemned and eliminated. He exuded confidence that many areas identified for cooperation will be acted upon in the times to come and India, as the SCO chair, will lead from the front in ensuring a safe and secure future for the region and the world as a whole.
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