Rajnath sends tough message on terrorism at SCO meet | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Rajnath sends tough message on terrorism at SCO meet

ByRahul Singh, New Delhi
Apr 28, 2023 11:54 PM IST

India's defence minister Rajnath Singh has called on the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to eliminate terrorism and hold those who aid it accountable. The comments were made at the defence ministers' meeting, with Singh stating that any nation that shelters terrorists not only poses a threat to others, but to itself too. He did not name Pakistan, but the comments come after a terrorist attack in the Rajouri sector on 20 April. The SCO has eight members, including India, China, Russia and Pakistan, and India views it as an important entity to promote defence cooperation among member states.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Friday asked the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) regional bloc to work towards eliminating terrorism and hold those who aid it accountable at the defence ministers’ meeting of the grouping, even as Pakistani defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif skipped the event, officials familiar with the matter said.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh at the SCO Defence Ministers' Meeting in New Delhi on Friday. (ANI)
Defence minister Rajnath Singh at the SCO Defence Ministers' Meeting in New Delhi on Friday. (ANI)

Asif was supposed to attend the meeting virtually.

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However, Islamabad was virtually represented by Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, special assistant to the Pakistan prime minister on defence, the officials said.

Singh’s call for clamping down on terrorism comes days after five Indian soldiers were killed in a terror ambush in the Rajouri sector on April 20. The spot where the terrorists ambushed the army truck is 7km from Bhimber Gali at the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan.

Addressing his SCO counterparts, Singh said any kind of terrorist act or support to it is a crime against humanity, and peace and prosperity cannot coexist with the menace.

“If a nation shelters terrorists, it not only poses a threat to others, but to itself too,” Singh said, without naming Pakistan. However, while addressing the army’s top brass at the Army Commanders’ Conference on April 19, Singh said that proxy war by the adversary was continuing.

“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 SCO a stronger and more credible international organisation, our top-most priority should be to effectively deal with terrorism,” he said.

SCO has eight members: India, China, Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran and Belarus are taking part in this year’s meeting as observers.

Singh on Thursday raised the issue of the lingering border row with China in eastern Ladakh with his Chinese counterpart General Li Shangfu while stressing that the violation of existing agreements had eroded bilateral relations, and the development of India-China ties was based on peace and tranquillity at the borders. He also told Li that all issues at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) should be resolved in accordance with existing bilateral agreements. India and China have been locked in a border row for almost three years.

On Friday, Singh said 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. He said New Delhi strives to bolster trust and cooperation among the SCO members as it believes in maintaining peace and security based on the Charter of the United Nations.

He said India was committed to defence capacity building of SCO member states through training and co-manufacturing and co-development of military hardware, while stressing that security challenges were not limited to any single country. India is moving forward with a collaborative approach in the field of defence partnership while keeping shared interests in mind, he said.

Singh also reiterated India’s commitment to play the role of a first responder and preferred partner for any humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operation in the region. “Be it the Covid-19 pandemic or the recent earthquake in Turkiye, India has always moved forward in line with the spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family),” he said.

In his opening remarks, Singh described the SCO as an “evolved and strong” regional organisation, while underlining that India views it as an important entity to promote defence cooperation among the member states.

At the end of the deliberations, the SCO countries signed a protocol, expressing their collective will to make the region secure, peaceful and prosperous. “It is our moral responsibility to start a new journey of development in the region through mutual cooperation, harmony and respect,” Singh added.

Later, defence secretary Giridhar Aramane said all the member nations reached a consensus on several areas of cooperation, including dealing with terrorism, security of vulnerable populations in various countries, and HADR activities. He said that all members of the bloc were unanimous in their statements that terrorism - in all its forms - must be condemned and eliminated.

Experts said that India has used the platform to assert itself and highlight terror as an instrument of state policy.

“India is asserting itself in the diplomatic and security domains by highlighting terror as an instrument of state policy. The minister’s comments are significant in the backdrop of the April 20 terror attack in Poonch,” said military affairs expert lieutenant general Vinod Bhatia (retd).

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