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SCO: India slams Pakistan for terror, opts out of BRI endorsement | India News

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NEW DELHI: The SCO heads of government meeting virtually hosted by India on Monday saw Vice President Venkaih Naidu attacking Pakistan for using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. In keeping with its position on BRI, India also backed out of an endorsement of the Chinese connectivity and infrastructure initiative by all other SCO member-states in the joint communique.
With focus on trade and economy, the summit meeting at the level of the prime ministers, which was hosted by India for the first time, also stressed on the need for WTO reforms.
Chairing the meeting in the absence of PM Narendra Modi, who was in his constituency Varanasi on Monday, Naidu said India was also concerned about efforts to raise bilateral issues at the Eurasian forum by blatantly violating the SCO Charter that safeguards the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of SCO member-states.
Naidu said the most important challenge faced by the region was terrorism, particularly cross-border terrorism. Without naming Pakistan, Naidu said India remained concerned about threats emerging from ungoverned spaces and particularly about States that leverage terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
“Such an approach is entirely against the spirit and ideals and the Charter of the SCO,” said Naidu, adding that India condemned terrorism in all its manifestations.
The summit meeting was attended by the prime ministers of China, Russia and of all other member-states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – except India and Pakistan.
“Any question about Pakistan’s commitment (to SCO) should be addressed to Pakistan. As far as we are concerned, we have upgraded our participation,” said MEA Secretary (West) Vikas Swarup. While underscoring India’s commitment to economic and other initiatives, Swarup said no single country can hold up cooperation as per the SCO Charter.
The official was responding to queries about Pakistan PM Imran Khan‘s decision to skip the event, and instead ask parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs to represent Pakistan. While Modi too skipped the meeting, India was represented by the vice president who ranks higher in the Indian order of precedence.
Not for the first time, India refused to join other member-states in “reaffirming” support to BRI projects in the region. “We have opted out of the mention of the BRI in the joint communique because of our reservations. SCO Charter allows this,” said a source. India sees BRI as undermining its sovereignty as the flagship project of the Chinese initiative, CPEC, passes through the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan which, as India says, is illegally occupied by Pakistan.
While the focus of the meeting was on trade and economy, including its role in recovery from Covid-19, Naidu said economic growth and trade can only operate in an environment of peace and security. For trade to play its part in the recovery process, he said, all the partners must be trustworthy and transparent.
“It is trust and transparency that determine the sustainability of global trade and nations must demonstrate their compliance with multilateral rules of trade to remain a part of this system,” said Naidu.
The heads of delegations too noted, according to the joint communique, the importance of further deepening cooperation in order to support and jointly develop a “transparent, open, inclusive, fair, non-discriminatory multilateral trading system” based on the principles and rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to promote an open world economy.
They stressed the relevance of reforming the WTO, including by improving its key functions-negotiation, monitoring and dispute resolution functions. “They are convinced that when reforming the WTO, it is necessary to ensure that the key values and fundamental principles of the WTO are preserved,” said the communique.

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