India, Pakistan spar at SCO video summit

Published July 5, 2023
A glimpse of SCO virtual Summit. — Picture courtesy: PMO Twitter
A glimpse of SCO virtual Summit. — Picture courtesy: PMO Twitter

NEW DELHI: The prime ministers of India and Pakistan sparred over minority rights and cross border terrorism at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s summit on Tuesday.

President Xi Jinping of China, where the story of the SCO began in 2001, offered a wider aperture to see the world in crisis, and spelled out steps to face the challenges.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted the video conference as this year’s SCO president. He reiterated India’s allegations of cross border terrorism albeit without naming Pakistan.

Mr Modi urged SCO members to condemn cross border terrorism suggesting that not doing so was tantamount to double standards. His unnamed target in this context was Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Mr Modi also took on Beijing and Islamabad on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), saying while executing connectivity projects, it is essential to “respect the sovereignty and regional integrity” of member countries of the SCO.

Xi stresses cooperation to resolve differences

India claims a part of passage of the CPEC passes through a region it claims as disputed. He told leaders of the SCO grouping — President Xi, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and President Vladimir Putin — that “terrorism has become a major threat to regional and global peace. Dealing with this challenge requires decisive action. Regardless of its form or manifestation, we must unite in our fight against terrorism.”

“Some countries use cross-border terrorism as an instrument of their policies, provide shelter to terrorists. SCO should not hesitate to criticise such nations. There should be no place for double standards on such serious matters,” he said.

President Xi welcomed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi as the ninth member of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Shifting the focus from South Asian rivalries, he dwelled on cooperation to resolve political disputes among member states.

He also cautioned against the staging of colour revolutions to destabilise governments and sage coups. SCO members should resist outside attempts to stage uprisings, he said. “It’s necessary to categorically oppose any attempts to interfere from the outside and inspire colour revolutions under any pretext,” Mr Xi stressed.

During his speech, the Chinese leader also criticised the practice of imposing sanctions without UN approval, and called on SCO members to increase their trade in national currencies.

The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and security organisation, which unites China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and now Iran. It’s currently the world’s largest regional bloc in terms of geographic scope and population.

PM Shehbaz in an oblique reference to the Kashmir dispute, said that the SCO stands for observance of the UN principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and people’s right to self-determination. “UN security council resolutions offer us a workable framework for the resolution of some longstanding disputes in the region. These must be addressed to immediately and settled amicably before it is too late,” he said.

During the video speech, Mr Xi stressed that SCO countries should step up strategic communication and coordination, bridge differences through dialogue, and replace competition with cooperation.“

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2023

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