Zhengzhou (China), Dec 15 (IANS) India on Tuesday said political convenience can no longer be an alibi for backing terrorism and called for closer coordination between the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to fight the scourge.
“International terrorism has emerged as the most serious threat to our peaceful and pluralistic societies,” Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh said while addressing the meeting of heads of government of the SCO grouping in this Chinese city.
“Closer coordination between SCO member states and zero tolerance towards terrorism will go a long way to address this menace. Political convenience can no longer provide an alibi for backing terrorist groups ideologically, financially or through material support,” he said.
The SCO is an inter-governmental organisation founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001 by six countries — China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Among other things, the SCO aims to enhance regional security through the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) and build connectivity.
India and Pakistan were given full membership of the organisation at its plenary held in the Russian city of Ufa in July this year.
“One of our most important goals remains a stable and peaceful Afghanistan free of external interference,” Singh said in Tuesday’s meeting also attended by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“This is absolutely essential to advance peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”
Singh also said India looked forward to the speedy completion of its full membership “so that we can involve ourselves fully in SCO’s programmes and activities at the earliest”.
According to him, there was enormous scope to push forward SCO’s economic and developmental agenda.
“India’s fast growing market provides an immense economic opportunity, especially for the relatively smaller economies of Central Asia. India’s energy requirements can be met by new and more ambitious energy projects within the SCO bringing on board the interests of energy exporting, transit and importing nations,” the minister said.
He said India, on its part, could bring to the region its strengths in financial management, especially micro-finance, pharmaceuticals, services such as information technology and healthcare, as well as capacity building.
“The SCO should create a facilitating environment for trade and investment. We should bring down barriers to trade and enhance links between our businesses, especially our small and medium enterprises.
“We can also work together on issues of food security and agriculture,” he said.
He said that though the past few years have witnessed a steady growth of new modes of connectivity in the region, progress in this regard was still limited.
“As we move ahead, we should invest in improving regional transportation and communication networks through mutual consultation and sharing of benefits,” he said.
“On this basis, we can create new networks of physical and digital connectivity that extends from Russia’s northern regions to the shores of Indian Ocean. The International North South Transportation Corridor is an important step in that direction.”
Singh said “a young and dynamic India, constituting one-sixth of humanity, which is growing at nearly 8 percent per year is joining the SCO to usher in a new phase of friendship with our partners”.