SCO Summit: Jaishankar talks tough on terror with Bilawal Bhutto in attendance
Chairing the conclave, the external affairs minister said India firmly believes that there can be no justification for terrorism. Photo credit: Twitter

SCO Summit: Jaishankar talks tough on terror with Bilawal Bhutto in attendance

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday stated the channel of finances for terrorist activities must be blocked without any distinction and terrorism in all its forms, including cross-border terrorism, must be stopped. His statement came at a conclave of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Goa.

With his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in attendance, Jaishankar said taking the eyes off terrorism would be detrimental to the security interests of the grouping. In his address at the SCO Council of foreign ministers’ meeting, he said when the world was engaged in facing COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, the menace of terrorism continued unabated, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

Also read: Need to root out terrorism, hold those aiding it accountable: Rajnath Singh at SCO meet

Combating terror

Chairing the conclave, the external affairs minister said India firmly believes that there can be no justification for terrorism and noted that combating the menace is one of the original mandates of the SCO. “We must not allow anybody — individual or State — to hide behind non-State actors,” he said. Jaishankar also underlined that while connectivity is key to progress, it must come with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member states.

The meeting was attended by Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang, Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and their counterparts from other SCO member nations. Jaishankar also delved into the situation in Afghanistan and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the consequences of geo-political upheavals that impacted supplies of energy, food and fertilisers.

“We firmly believe that there can be no justification for terrorism and it must be stopped in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism,” Jaishankar said. “The channel of finances for terrorist activities must be seized and blocked without distinction. Members need not be reminded that combating terrorism is one of the original mandates of the SCO,” he added.

On Afghanistan, he said the unfolding situation in that country remains at “centre of our attention”. “Our efforts should be directed towards the welfare of the Afghan people. Our immediate priorities include providing humanitarian assistance, ensuring a truly inclusive and representative government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities,” he said.

Also read: Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto to attend SCO meeting in India in May

Joint responsibility

In his remarks, Bhutto-Zardari said the “collective security of our people is our joint responsibility. Terrorism continues to threaten global security,” he said. “Let’s not get caught up in weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point scoring,” he said, in remarks that appeared to take a jibe at the Indian side. “When I speak on this topic, I do so not only as the Foreign Minister of Pakistan whose people have suffered the most in terms of number of attacks and number of casualties. I also speak as the son whose mother was assassinated at the hands of terrorists,” the Pakistan foreign minister said.

Bhutto-Zardari said he and his country are firmly committed to be part of regional and global efforts for eradicating terrorism. “This requires not only a comprehensive approach but also a collective approach. It demands we address the root causes as well as the threats posed by specific groups. It requires that we let this challenge unite us to fight it rather than divide us to become its victim. Our success requires us to isolate this issue from geo-political partisanship,” he added.

Talking about the challenge of terrorism, the Pakistan foreign minister also said that practical and pragmatic solutions exist to put an end to “this chapter once and for all”. “We must stop conflating non-state actors with state actors. Condemn all forms of terrorism including state sponsored terrorism,” he added. Bhutto-Zardari also called upon “interim Afghan authorities” to uphold their commitments on not allowing the use of Afghan soil for terrorism. “We need to be unambiguous in keeping our commitments and charting out a new future for our people. One that is not based on conflict preservation but on conflict resolution,” he added.

Also read: India can’t engage with Pakistan due to cross-border terror: S Jaishankar

Trust deficit

In his address, Jaishankar noted that current crises facing the world have exposed a credibility and trust deficit in the ability of global institutions to manage challenges in a timely and effective manner. He said reform and modernisation of the SCO will aid a more contemporary outlook which India will actively support.

The external affairs minister also noted the progress for the admission of Iran and Belarus as full member states of the SCO. He also said that constructive steps are being taken to make English the third official language of SCO. Currently, Chinese and Russian are the two official languages of the SCO. Jaishankar also appreciated the support of member countries for India’s proposal of creation of two new working groups on startups and innovation and traditional medicine.

The SCO is an influential economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations. The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.

(With Agency inputs)


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