India-Pakistan cautioned against bringing bilateral hostility to SCO table
India has repeatedly flagged its ‘sovereignty‘ concerns with Beijing about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – the flagship project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
India is ready to cooperate with Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states on connectivity and trade given the initiatives take into account the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of the countries in the group, ambassador VK Gokhale said on Thursday.
“We support enhanced connectivity and unimpeded trade in the SCO region and believe that such initiatives should be pursued in an inclusive and sustainable manner with due respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all members,” Gokhale said.
The Indian envoy was speaking at the flag-raising ceremony at the SCO secretariat on Thursday morning to complete the entry of India and Pakistan into the Beijing-led group. The two countries were admitted to the group at the end of the two-day SCO summit in Astana in Kazakhstan earlier this month.
India has repeatedly flagged its “sovereignty” concerns with Beijing about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – the flagship project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
China has been frequently highlighting the links between SCO with the BRI. India’s concerns could be amplified if there is increasing overlap between Beijing’s focus on BRI and SCO’s agenda.
Gokhale also brought up the issue of terrorism and extremism in the region.
“India’s historical and cultural linkages with the region date back several centuries and we enjoy long-standing relations with each of the SCO members. Now as a full member of the SCO, we look forward to further deepening these relations for mutual benefit. We would also like to deepen practical cooperation in our joint fight against terrorism and extremism,” he said.
“With India’s joining, SCO now represents 20% of the world’s GDP, 22% of the world’s area and 42% of the world’s population, Stability and progress of SCP will be beneficial for the region and the world at large,” he added.
Speaking to Indian reporters at the event, Chinese assistant foreign minister Kong Xuanyou said Beijing had expectations about India’s role in the organisation. But Kong also cautioned about bringing India-Pakistan’s history of hostility to the SCO table.
“In the charter of the SCO, there is a clause that the hostility between bilateral relations should not be brought to the organisation. I believe both countries should abide by this charter of the organisation,” Kong said.
“This organisation has its own rules and procedures. We hope that those rules can be abided by all member states ... So, we should not exaggerate the differences between countries. That will not be good for the organisation and cooperation of member states,” he said.