India at SCO: Takes swipe at Pakistan for cross-border terror, pushes alternative to BRI

Underlining the continuing threat of terrorism to regional and global peace, Prime Minister Modi has called for a decisive response to cross-border terrorism, a veiled swipe at Pakistan, and also pushed for rules-based connectivity, an oblique reference to New Delhi’s concerns over China-backed BRI.

“Priority must naturally be given to combating terrorism, one of the original goals of SCO.  Many of us have had our experiences, often originating  beyond our borders,”  said PM Modi in his speech at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a six-nation Eurasian grouping that also includes Russia and China.

“Let us be clear that if left unchecked, it can become a major threat to regional and global peace. Terrorism  in any form or manifestation cannot be justified or condoned,” he said. PM Modi’s remarks were read by External Affairs S. Jaishankar, who represented India at the SCO summit in Kazakh capital Astana. PM Modi did not attend the SCO summit in person in Astana as the Indian parliament was in session.

In strong words aimed at Pakistan, PM Modi exhorted the international community to isolate and expose those countries that harbour terrorists, provide safe havens and condone terrorism.

“Cross-border terrorism requires a decisive response and terrorism financing and recruitment must be resolutely countered. We should also take proactive steps to prevent the spread of radicalization among our youth.”

In his remarks, PM Modi also advocated rules-based connectivity that respects territorial sovereignty and integrity, a thinly disguised critique of the Belt and Road Initiative which is supported by all SCO members except for India.

“Respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is essential for connectivity and infrastructure projects. So too are non-discriminatory trade rights and transit regimes. The SCO needs to deliberate seriously on these aspects,” said PM Modi.

India also sought to broaden the canvas of the SCO’s agenda by focusing on climate change, food security and energy security. PM Modi’s remarks highlighted India’s commitment towards combating climate change and achieving reduction in emission goals, transition towards alternative fuels, adopting environmental-friendly practices and building climate-resilient infrastructure.

India, through its ‘AI for All’ Mission, aims to develop society-friendly technology and integrate it with the SCO’s framework on AI cooperation, said PM Modi. PM Modi’s remarks also highlighted India’s efforts to foster closer people-to-people ties through multiple events organised during its presidency of SCO last year.

“Cooperation in the SCO, for us, has been people-centric. India organised SCO Milliet Food Festival, SCO Film Festival, SCO Surajkund Craft Mela, SCO Think-Tanks Conference and International Conference on Shared Buddhist Heritage during its presidency. We will naturally support similar endeavours by others.”

Under the overarching principle of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, the motto of India’s G20 presidency, Prime Minister Modi urged to translate these sentiments into practical cooperation, fostering growth and prosperity for all.

(Yashasvi Bhardwaj contributed inputs for this article)

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Manish Chand
Manish Chand
Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network ( and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.