India seeks SCO support to jointly counter terror

SCOSeeking a bigger role in the six-nation Shanghai Corporation Organisation (SCO), India has underlined its intent to step up counter-terror cooperation with the SCO and warned against the globalisation of the supply chain of terrorism and extremism.

“We are acutely aware of the threat that its perpetrators pose to our people, as also to our common region. We are seeing different theaters getting interconnected through terror networks and a globalisation of the supply chain of ideology, radicalisation, recruitment, training and financing of terrorism,” said India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Speaking at the annual summit of the SCO on September 12, Swaraj said India had long been a victim of this global problem, and that it was time for the global leadership to join hands in countering terrorism and other evils including drug trafficking and small arms proliferation.

“In this context, we are keen to deepen our security- related cooperation with the SCO in general and with the Regional Counter Terrorism Structure, in particular,” said Swaraj.

India is leveraging its position and strategic importance to counter terrorism to push for full membership in the group.

“We have submitted our formal application for the full membership of the SCO to the current SCO chair. We hope to lay the foundation of a new relationship with the SCO region which will draw strength from our ancient links while preparing together to address the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century,” said Swaraj said in Dushambe (Tajikistan).

The SCO too is keen to take India on as a full member as it cleared major administrative hurdles to initiate the process. Russia has declared support for  India’s full membership of the SCO, but China is ambivalent towards it.

“We stand ready to assume greater responsibility in terms of SCO. We will be able to contribute in better capacity once it (SCO) opens its membership to others,” said Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson for India’s external affairs ministry in New Delhi.

India, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan are currently observers at the SCO.  The process to grant SCO membership to India and two other countries is expected to be completed within one year.

This annual summit of the SCO focused on regional security issues following the planned drawdown of NATO forces in Afghanistan by end of 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani were among heads of states who participated in the summit.

Swaraj who had visited Afghanistan just days earlier reiterated India’s support for Afghanistan’s reconstruction amid the unfolding transition.

“India strongly believes that Afghanistan can successfully complete the security, political and economic transitions and regain its historical place as a hub for regional trade and transit routes,” the Minister said.

She added: “However, at this time of delicate transition, the international community must stand united to support Afghanistan to preserve the progress it has made in the last decade against terrorism and related threats to its national well-being.

In her interaction with Tajik President and host of the SCO Summit Emomali Rahmon on September 11 she spoke of how all countries at the SCO had a common enemy in Islamic fundamentalism.

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