NEW DELHI: India will host later this week a Pakistan delegation comprising military and security officials for a meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on issues related to border management. All SCO member-states, including Russia and China, are expected to participate in the discussion that will begin on June 15 and culminate in a meeting of the leaders of the delegations on June 17.
India has not allowed its continued border strife with China and the freeze in ties with Pakistan to come in the way of SCO cooperation. The government hopes though the group will abide by its stated commitment to the UN Charter, sovereignty and territorial integrity, peaceful settlement of possible disputes through dialogue and mutual consultation, non-interference in internal affairs and also non-use of military force or threat of force.
India had recently also hosted a meeting of SCO – Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) that also saw participation by Pakistan. Strengthening border security is an important priority area for SCO along with efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, extremism and radicalisation.
According to the 2021 Dushanbe Declaration on the 20th anniversary of the SCO, the member-states will continue effective cooperation on border issues, including joint border operations, as well as exchange of information on individuals involved in terrorist activities, and will jointly investigate transnational terrorist crimes through “effective border control in order to prevent the activities of and border crossing by foreign terrorists and terrorist groups”.
India is currently also working closely with central Asian countries like Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan – all SCO member-states – to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and to prevent the country from turning into a terror safe haven. All 4 countries participated in the Delhi Security Dialogue hosted by NSA Ajit Doval on the Afghanistan situation last year in November.
While India has accused Islamabad in the past of using the SCO platform to raise bilateral issues, the government sent a delegation last year to Pakistan to participate in an anti-terror exercise in a sign of the importance it attaches to the organisation. It will be interesting to see if either side comes up with a proposal for a bilateral meeting between PM Narendra Modi and his counterpart Shehbaz Sharif on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Uzbekistan in September. Modi had twice congratulated Shehbaz after the latter took over as PM but India has been disappointed by his “personal” attack on Modi in his condemnation of the remarks against the Prophet by BJP spokespersons.





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