India asks SCO to enforce international legal statutes to eradicate safe havens of terrorists

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New Delhi: Asserting Monday that terrorism is the biggest challenge the region is facing, India criticised Pakistan for using it as an ‘instrument of state policy’. India called upon the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to combat the menace collectively and enforce internationally recognised legal statutes to comprehensively eradicate safe havens, infrastructure and financial networks supporting terrorism.

In an address at the Council of Heads of Government meeting of the eight-member Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said the most important challenge faced by the region is cross-border terrorism. He asserted that India remained concerned about threats emerging from ungoverned spaces as well.

“Terrorism is truly the enemy of humanity. It is a scourge we need to collectively combat. We remain concerned about threats emerging from ungoverned spaces and are particularly concerned 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,” Naidu said at the virtual meet hosted by India. Naidu did not name Pakistan directly during his address.

The vice-president said elimination of this threat will help the countries realise shared potential and create conditions for stable and secure economic growth and sustainable development. He also called upon SCO member states to enforce internationally recognised legal statutes to comprehensively eradicate safe havens, infrastructure and financial networks supporting terrorism, a statement issued by Naidu’s office said.

In another indirect reference to Pakistan, the vice-president criticised attempts to bring bilateral issues into the SCO by blatantly violating its well-established principles and norms of charter safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the member states. “Such acts are counterproductive to the spirit of consensus and cooperation that define the SCO as an organisation,” asserted Naidu.

India hosted the meet for the first time after it got full membership of the influential grouping in 2017. The council of heads of government is the second highest forum of the SCO after the annual summit of the top leaders of the grouping.

India’s representation at the SCO council of heads of government has often been at the level of a cabinet minister. Last year, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh attended it in Uzbekistan.