Resolve post-Pulwama differences bilaterally, China-led SCO tells India, Pakistan
The China-led regional security bloc, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has said India and Pakistan should resolve their differences in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack bilaterally, cautioning them against any spillover of the animosity in the group.
India and Pakistan also have to remain committed to fighting terrorism, the newly appointed SCO secretary-general, Vladimir Norov said.
“Otherwise, it would be impossible for the two States to participate in the SCO,” he added.
Norov said the SCO members were “sincerely glad” that the “calls for restraint and a political and diplomatic solution to bilateral conflicts from all SCO member states were heard by the parties”.
“The whole world has heard clear signals from the parties not to escalate relations and their readiness to fully understand and follow the principles established within the organisation,” he said.
Norov, however, didn’t comment on the wide differences between India and Pakistan – and also China – on terrorism and specific terror suspects.
India and Pakistan were admitted to the six-member group in 2017 after several years of negotiations.
Their history of hostility and more recently the military engagement following the Pulwama terror attack have put question marks on whether New Delhi and Islamabad will be able to set aside their differences when sitting at the same SCO table.
Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack, in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed. But its leader Azhar Masood was saved from being listed as a global terrorist at the United Nations – for the fourth time – by Islamabad’s snug ally, China.
India said it was disappointed by China’s decision to block Masood’s listing.
In a written question, HT had asked how and whether SCO will be able to iron out these differences on a crucial issue like terrorism among India, China, and Pakistan.
Norov didn’t answer the question directly but said India and Pakistan will have to work together in the SCO.
He was addressing his first press conference held at the SCO headquarters in Beijing on Wednesday; the other SCO members are Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
“As you know, before joining the SCO as full members, India and Pakistan committed themselves to strictly implement all the provisions of the legal framework that has been developed by the member states of the organisation,” Norov added.
“One of such fundamental obligations is not to bring bilateral contradictions and disagreements to the SCO family, as the SCO is not engaged in the settlement of disputable bilateral issues, whether border, water or other topics in relations between individual member states,” he said.
“In addition, the most important condition for participation in multi-disciplinary cooperation within the SCO is the commitment to the unconditional and consistent struggle against terrorism, separatism, and extremism,” he said.
The SCO acquired a trans-regional character with the joining of India and Pakistan.
“I can say that with the accession of India and Pakistan, the SCO has acquired a trans-regional character, and in terms of its aggregate potential - the total population, territory, reserves of natural resources, GDP - it has become the largest organisation not only in the region but also in the world. Based on this, many experts note that the SCO should be among the main “supporting structures” of the future world order,” Norov said.
Norov said counter-terrorism and cooperation in the field of security were very important issues for SCO members.
The SCO Charter defines joint counteraction to terrorism, separatism, and extremism in all their manifestations as one of the important tasks.
He said that for almost two decades, the organisation has made a significant contribution to security and development in a vast region is an indisputable fact.
“Over the years, the joint efforts of all parties have succeeded in creating a solid legal framework and effective mechanisms for cooperation in the field of security. The approval at the Qingdao summit of the Cooperation Program of the SCO member states in countering terrorism, separatism and extremism for 2019-2021 reflects the desire of all the organisation’s states to counter major security threats in Eurasia,” he said.
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