EAM’s tough talk against terrorism at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was aimed also at giving a strong message to Pakistan and China. PM Modi set to raise the issue of cross border terrorism during the SCO Summit in Samarkand in September

New Delhi: With Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto listening, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar at the SCO Foreign Ministers’ conclave in Tashkent asserted that “zero tolerance” for terrorism in all its manifestations is a must. EAM aptly used the forum of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to send a strong message on terrorism across to Pakistan. Jaishankar also set the tone for the forthcoming SCO Summit of Heads of State scheduled to be in Samarkand on 15-16 September this year. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to participate in the upcoming SCO Summit, EAM Jaishankar has given the message that the Indian leadership is going to raise the issue of terrorism as a big agenda during the conclave in September. Highly-placed diplomatic sources told The Sunday Guardian that Jaishankar’s pitch for zero tolerance to terrorism at the SCO meet was part of PM Modi’s plan to make it a big issue to corner Pakistan in the presence of China, Russia and the four central Asian states. PM Modi wants to raise the issue of terrorism during his speech at the SCO Summit where Pakistan’s PM Shahbaz Sharif will be also present, apart from Chinese President Xi Jinping. Jaishankar’s anti-terror pitch assumed significance as it came during the SCO FMs’ conclave which also discussed the preparations for the forthcoming Summit of Heads of State. “Jaishankar’s remarks were also aimed at giving an oblique message to China which has remained silent on Pakistan sponsoring, exporting and aiding terror,” diplomats told The Sunday Guardian. Sources said that during bilateral talks with his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, Jaishankar underlined the need to initiate concrete efforts aimed at formulating joint strategy and policy on zero tolerance towards terrorism in all its manifestations. “Cross border terrorism and terror organisations rearing their heads again in Afghanistan under the Taliban figured during the talks on the sidelines of SCO meet in Uzbek capital Tashkent,” sources added.

According to highly-placed sources, PM Modi is keen that forums like SCO should be utilized to corner Pakistan as well as China on the issue of terrorism.

While Pakistan continues to export terror, China continues to be mute on this misconduct, sources said, adding that Jaishankar in private conversations told the foreign ministers from central Asian states that cross-border terrorism is the biggest challenge for most of the countries belonging to the SCO.

What is worth mentioning here is that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval last year also proposed an action plan against Pakistan-based terror groups Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) as part of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation framework. He had made this proposal while participating in the meeting of NSAs in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe in November 2021.

What is remarkable is that India is not missing any chance to highlight its concerns over cross border terrorism emanating from Pakistan during any meeting of the SCO. Pakistan is also part of the SCO, and India wants other SCO members including China to be vocal against terrorism from Pakistan so that pressure can be built on it. “New Delhi is keen to expose Beijing’s connivance with Islamabad on this issue,” officials said.

EAM stressed on the words “terrorism in all its manifestations” only because he wanted to give a message to China which has been selective in terms of terrorism. “With Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi present during the Tashkent meeting, Jaishankar gave the message that Beijing should also join global chorus against Pak-based terror groups,” said a diplomat.

The use of Afghan soil by terrorists should also be a matter of concern for all in the SCO, Jaishankar signalled.