The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit, hosted virtually by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saw the virtual participation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Putin, Pakistan’s Shehbaz Sharif, and newly-inducted member Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi. The summit focused on crucial issues such as cross-border terrorism, regional stability, and enhancing cooperation among member nations.
In an oblique reference to Pakistan, Prime Minister Modi once again emphasized the importance of unequivocal condemnation of nations employing cross-border terrorism and urged the SCO not to shy away from criticizing such practices. India has repeatedly accused Pakistan of using terrorism as instruments of state policy.
A point of contention arose when India abstained from supporting China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the SCO’s New Delhi declaration. India’s stance is rooted in concerns over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which it believes violates its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The New Delhi declaration signed by the member nations at the end of the meeting stated that the international community must come together to “counter the activities of terrorist, separatist and extremist groups, paying special attention to preventing the spread of religious intolerance, aggressive nationalism, ethnic and racial discrimination, xenophobia, ideas of fascism and chauvinism.”
In his address, PM Modi indirectly referred to the ongoing Ukraine war, highlighting the challenges faced by the world, including conflicts, tensions, and pandemics. By acknowledging these global issues, Modi emphasized the need for collective efforts and cooperation among nations to address common challenges, such as food, fuel, and fertilizer crises.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif denounced terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, stressing the need for resolute action against both individual and state-sponsored terrorism.
Although the SCO summit was successfully organized, an undercurrent of bitterness between India’s relations with China and Pakistan was obvious. Ever since China’s incursions along the Line of Actual Control, India has drifted closer to the west and rightly so. And as for ties with Pakistan, the SCO summit offered little hope that the two countries are any closer to getting back to some working relationship. In fact, the two neighbours confronted each other in even more antagonistic terms.
The SCO summit was an opportunity for India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue and explore avenues for cooperation. However, the meeting has only served to highlight the deep-seated distrust. New Delhi has once again made it clear that as long as Pakistan continued to support terrorism, India will remain on guard and not resume dialogue. Similarly with China, India wants the status quo ante along the LAC to restore for normal neighbourly ties to resume.
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