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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Terror sponsors must be held accountable, Modi tells SCO

Addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit here, Modi highlighted the spirit and ideals of the SCO to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

world Updated: Jun 14, 2019 23:38 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PM Narendra Modi with Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov at Bishkek. (Photo by @narendramodi)
PM Narendra Modi with Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov at Bishkek. (Photo by @narendramodi)

Countries supporting and financing terror must be held accountable, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday while addressing a gathering in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek that included his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan.

Modi didn’t name any country in his speech at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, keeping in mind the grouping’s sensitivities to the raising of bilateral matters by members, but there was little doubt the reference was to Pakistan.

India’s concerns about terror emanating from Pakistan were also addressed in the Bishkek Declaration adopted at the summit, which spoke of the need for greater coordination to tackle “cross-border” security challenges and said the use of terror groups “to achieve one’s own mercenary ends is unacceptable”.

“It is necessary that the countries which encourage, support and finance terrorism are held responsible,” said Modi, who largely kept his distance from Khan while attending at least seven events during the two-day summit, including photo ops, a formal dinner and a formal lunch. The two leaders only “exchanged usual pleasantries” when they came face-to-face in the leaders lounge on Friday, people familiar with developments said.

Modi referred to the impact of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka last month and called for an international conference to fight terror. All humanitarian forces will have to emerge from their narrow realms and unite to combat the menace, he said.

“During my visit to Sri Lanka last Sunday, I visited St Anthony’s Church, where I saw the ugly face of terrorism that emerges everywhere and at any time to claim the lives of innocents,” Modi said in his address, referring to one of the sites targeted by the suicide bombers who killed more than 250 people.

SCO members should use the full potential for cooperation under the grouping’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) to eliminate terror, he added, speaking in Hindi.

India has linked any engagement with Pakistan to a crack down on terror groups based on Pakistani soil. Modi said during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday that Pakistan is yet to take concrete action on India’s concerns and create an atmosphere free of terror.

Watch | Countries sponsoring terror must be held accountable: PM Modi’s subtle jibe at Pak 

The Bishkek Declaration called for close coordination and constructive cooperation by the world community to tackle “challenges and security threats that are becoming cross-border in their nature”, including terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, unsettled conflicts undermining the global security system and climate change.

The SCO members condemned terror in all forms and emphasised their intention to deepen cooperation to address threats to stability and security. They said acts of terrorism cannot be justified and called for comprehensive measures to determine, and eliminate factors and conditions that promote terror.

“They note that interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs under the pretext of fighting terrorism and extremism as well as using terrorist, extremist and radical groups to achieve one’s own mercenary ends is unacceptable,” the declaration said.

While condemning the “propaganda of the ideology of terrorism” and intolerance and discrimination based on religion, the SCO members said it is a priority to step up joint efforts to counter attempts to involve youngsters in the activities of terrorist, separatist and extremist groups.

Modi also presented a new acronym HEALTH that could be a template for cooperation – healthcare cooperation, economic cooperation, alternate energy, literature and culture, terrorism-free society and humanitarian cooperation.

A peaceful and united Afghanistan is an important factor for stability and security in the SCO area and India backs an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled inclusive peace process, he said. “We are happy that the road map for further action by the SCO Afghanistan contact group is ready,” he added.

In the field of climate change, Modi urged SCO members to back the International Solar Alliance to mobilise technology and finance to reduce solar energy costs.

Referring to India’s involvement in connectivity projects such as Iran’s Chabahar port and the North-South Corridor, Modi told the gathering that included Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that all such initiatives should be based on respect for sovereignty, regional integrity, transparency and reliability.

In his speech, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country condemns terrorism in all forms and manifestations, “including state-terrorism against people under illegal occupation”. He contended Pakistan was among the “few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism”. He also said growing intolerance and Islamophobia were “threatening to accentuate religious fault lines”.

A scheduled bilateral meeting between the Indian premier and the Iranian president on Friday couldn’t be held as an official banquet for all the SCO leaders was delayed and this disrupted the schedule of all the leaders, people familiar with developments said.

Modi had to attend a business forum while Rouhani had various engagements, they said.

First Published: Jun 14, 2019 12:30 IST

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