ANI Photo | There should be no place for “double standards” on terrorism: India at SCO meeting

Stating that connectivity is crucial for the progress of any region, India said that it is essential to uphold the basic principles of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) charter and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the member states.
Reiterating its strong stand against terrorism, India also stressed that the SCO member states must unite in the fight against terrorism and there should be no place for “double standards.”
MEA Secretary (Economic Relations) was speaking at the Meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers in Astana, Kazakhstan on May 21.
India congratulated Kazakhstan for its SCO presidency of the SCO Council of Heads of State in 2024. It also expressed its gratitude for India’s admission as an SCO member in 2017 under the Kazakh presidency.
MEA Secy also thanked the Kazakh side for their warm hospitality to him and his delegation in Astana.
Notably, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar wasn’t able to join the event because of the ongoing general elections in India. He conveyed his wishes for the success of this meeting.
Welcoming Iran into the SCO, India also condoled the demise of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian and others who died in a chopper crash this week.
India said it is looking forward to Belarus joining SCO in the capacity as a member in July this year.
“India shares deep civilizational ties with the people of this region. We share a common geographical space. The continuous movement of goods, ideas and people traversing the region has left indelible imprints on our customs, traditions, language and cuisine. These historical ties should now create a template for greater mutually beneficial cooperation and people-to-people contact amongst our nation,” Ravi said in his address.
He said that the centrality of the interests of Central Asian states plays a key role in the engagement with SCO. He added that the platform provides an unparalleled opportunity to unite people, collaborate, grow and prosper together, practising the millenia-old principle of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (The World is One Family), a message India espouses.
“Since its inclusion as a member of SCO in 2017, India has contributed positively to enhance the role of SCO in the global arena and played a proactive and constructive role in the Organization as was evident during India’s presidency last year,” the MEA Secy said.
“As the Chair of SCO Council of Heads of State last year, India’s priorities were to advance the theme – ‘towards a SECURE SCO’. SECURE is the acronym articulated by Prime Minister Modi which stands for Security, Economic Cooperation, Connectivity, Unity, Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and Environment,” he added.
He further said that New Delhi has focused on five pillars of cooperation – Science and Technology, Startups and Innovation, Traditional Medicine, Shared Buddhist Heritage, and Youth Empowerment.
Highlighting the challenge of terrorism faced by the world today, the MEA Secy said that decisive action is required to deal with this challenge and there should be no place for “double standards” on such crucial issues.
“One of the global challenges today is terrorism. It has become a major threat to regional and global peace and dealing with this challenge requires decisive action. Regardless of its form and manifestations, we must unite in our fight against terrorism, including cross-border terrorism and terror financing. There should be no place for double standards on such serious matters,” Ravi said.
He added, “The SCO-RATS mechanism shall continue to play a significant role in this regard. India is committed to implement the Action Program flowing from the address by the SCO Heads of State to Youth in 2018 in countering radicalization.”
Notably, Pakistan is known for fostering terrorists and supporting cross-border terrorism. China, on the other hand, has blocked the UN from listing several names from being designated as global terrorists on multiple occasions.
Raising concern on the situation in Afghanistan, the MEA Secy said it directly impacted the regional security, and affirmed that SCO nations must come together to strive for the well-being of the people of Afghanistan
“The situation in Afghanistan has directly impacted the security of all of us. SCO countries must come together to strive for the well-being of the people of Afghanistan. It is important that Afghanistan’s territory is not used to spread instability in the region or to encourage extremist ideologies,” Ravi said.
While stating that strong connectivity is crucial for any region’s progress, India also emphasised that the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the member states.
This is a veiled reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its Pakistani component China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India has repeatedly raised concerns over the project as it passes through the Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) region.
Dammu Ravi also said Iran’s SCO membership can help maximise the utilization of the Chabahar Port.
“Strong connectivity is crucial for the progress of any region as it fosters better trade and trust in the region. However, in these efforts, it is essential to uphold the basic principles of the SCO charter, particularly respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Member States,” the MEA Secy said.
“Following Iran’s membership in the SCO, we can work towards maximizing the utilization of the Chabahar Port. The International North-South Transport Corridor can serve as a secure and efficient route for landlocked countries in Central Asia to access the Indian Ocean. Similarly, the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) could also be an enabler in bringing economic prosperity in the region,” he added.
The Chabahar Port is an India-Iran flagship project that serves as an important transit port for trade with Afghanistan. India has been a key player in the development and operation of Chabahar Port.
Speaking on the Special Working Group on Startups and Innovation, which was created by India with the vision of fostering collaboration among SCO member states, Dammu Ravi said New Delhi has also organised various initiatives for the startup ecosystems of the SCO Member States since 2020, including the fourth edition of the SCO Startup Forum that was held on March 19 this year.
He also spoke about the Expert Working Group on Traditional Medicine, which was established to consider the use of traditional medicines and methods to improve the health of citizens of SCO member states in accordance with national legislation and national priorities.
The MEA Secy further highlighted that during India’s presidency, a Concept Note on Digital Public Infrastructure for Digital Inclusion and Innovation; and a Report on Digital Financial Inclusion were approved.
The member states also adopted a Statement on Cooperation in Digital Transformation to bring efficiency, transparency and empowerment of citizens, he added.
Dammu Ravi stressed that reform and modernization of SCO is one of the most important agendas before the bloc.
“It is pertinent that English is given the status of one of the SCO official and working languages to not only enhance the efficiency of the Organization but also its stature in the international arena. We would be happy to assist in capacity building programmes for English language, through India’s renowned Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) courses,” he said.

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