India asks SCO members to work towards a stable, secure, peaceful Afghanistan
Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman, addressing separate meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), asked the member states to strongly support the Afghanistan govt’s efforts for inclusive peace and reconciliation process.india Updated: Apr 24, 2018 22:47 IST
India on Tuesday underlined the need for a stable, secure and peaceful Afghanistan for the security and prosperity of the region.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, addressing separate meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Beijing, asked the member states to strongly support the Afghanistan government’s efforts for inclusive peace and reconciliation process and adopt an uncompromising approach towards the persisting threat of terrorism in that country.
In her address to the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, Swaraj said that peace in the war-torn Afghanistan could be achieved through political dialogue and reconciliation in an atmosphere free from terror and violence, within the framework of Afghan Constitution.
About 90 people, including security personnel and civilians, have died and 200 injured in a spate of terror attacks in the last three days in Afghanistan.
“I believe that peace and development in Afghanistan contributes to security and prosperity of the member states and the region as a whole. This can only be achieved through political dialogue and reconciliation in an atmosphere free from terror and violence, within the framework of Afghan Constitution,” Swaraj said.
She asked the member states to “strongly support” the Afghanistan government’s active effort “to implement Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled, inclusive peace and reconciliation process”.
“India actively supports the activation of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, the Moscow Consultation Format and other mechanisms of dialogue and cooperation for restoration of peace and development in Afghanistan,” Swaraj said at the meet, which was also attended by Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif.
India and Afghanistan blame Pakistan for providing safe havens to terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network.
The Haqqani network has carried out a number of kidnapping and attacks against US interests in Afghanistan. The group is also blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people.
Addressing the SCO Council of Defence Ministers’ meeting in Beijing, Sitharaman raised issues of cross-border terrorism, extremism, cyber security and narcotics trafficking, saying international terrorism is today the most serious threat to the peaceful societies.
Stressing that terrorism threatens to derail developmental aspirations and create sustained instability, both within countries and across national borders, she asked the member states to work towards the goal of a “stable, secure and peaceful Afghanistan”.
Sitharaman strongly condemned the recent terror attack in Kabul, and said, “the SCO must adopt an uncompromising approach towards the persisting threat of terrorism in Afghanistan, as it is essential to advance peace and prosperity in the region”.
“India is committed to doing all it can to assist Afghanistan in its quest to regain stability and reconstruct its economy and polity. This includes cooperation in building capacities and capabilities of the Afghan national security forces,” the defence minister said.
In doing so, she said, India will continue to be guided by the requirements of the government of Afghanistan and the shared objectives of the international community.
Sitharaman, who is on her maiden visit to China after becoming defence minister, also called upon the member countries to closely coordinate and adopt a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism.
The SCO, headquartered in Beijing, was founded in 2001.
Comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India and Pakistan, the SCO aims at military cooperation between the member states and involves intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism operations in Central Asia and joint work against cyber terrorism.
India and Pakistan were admitted last year into the organisation in which China plays an influential role.
India, she stressed, will continue to engage strongly with the SCO-Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure based in Tashkent in this regard.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)