SOCHI (RUSSIA): Putting terrorism on top of the SCO agenda, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has pitched for enhanced intelligence sharing and counter-terror cooperation. In an important formulation, Ms Swaraj also underlined the need to delink terrorism from any nationality or religion.Highlighting the urgent need to put in place a strong security architecture in the Central Asian region and the deepening of connectivity at multiple levels, Mrs Swaraj urged all member nations to step up cooperation to deal with the menace of terrorism.
In her statement at the 16th Meeting of Council of SCO Heads of Governments in Sochi on December 1, she articulated India’s stand on the unacceptability of terrorist activities in the name of any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnicity. “India… urges all nations to enhance cooperation in intelligence sharing, law enforcement, developing best practices and technologies, mutual legal assistance, extradition arrangements, capacity building amongst other measures, for countering terrorism”. There was, however, no mention of the release of 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed. The reference to Pakistan was, however, clear in the region. “We must reaffirm that terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. It is a crime against the entire humanity,” Mrs Swaraj said.
Pushing for India’s interests in the Central Asian region, Ms Swaraj stressed on upgrading connectivity. “I believe that this is the starting point of our journey, to realise the full spectrum of connectivity – from culture to commerce; from traditions to technology; from investments to IT; from services to strategy; and from people to politics, that has been visualised by Prime Minister Modi”, she said. Along with connectivity, she also mentioned the importance to uphold the respect for sovereignty, inclusivity, transparency and sustainability.
Given India’s more prominent role in Afghanistan in recent times, Ms Swaraj urged the Central Asian nations to invest more in enhancing economic cooperation with the beleaguered nation in order to secure stability of the entire region.
India’s growing energy needs has made Central Asia an important and highly valued region. The minister pressed for greater collaboration and cooperation in advancing the use of renewable and alternative sources of energy. “This should be complimented by the development of efficient technologies in mining, transportation and consumption of traditional energy resources to reduce negative environmental impacts. We look forward to the SCO to interacting actively and participating in Energy Club’s initiatives in this regard”, she said.
She also pointed out agriculture as another prominent sector in which the SCO must foster greater engagement “in areas as food security, adaptation of agriculture to climatic change, development & implementation of innovative agricultural technologies, joint projects in the field of live-stock breeding, crop production & agricultural products processing”.
“Similarly, we strongly advocate the expansion of mutually advantageous, and diversified cooperation between the specialized agencies, associations and companies of the SCO Member States in the field of communication and information technologies as well as use of “e-Government” technologies and state e-governance tools”, she added.
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