By: RANJIT KUMAR, Senior Journalist
The Annual Meeting of the Defence Ministers of the member-states of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was held in Tajikistan at a very opportune moment; when the world is staring at the impending grim scenario of heavy violence in Afghanistan.
In this backdrop, strategic observers kept a close eye on the participation of Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who made a valuable contribution to the deliberations during the recent SCO Defence Ministers meeting. Since most of the SCO members are close or distant neighbours of Afghanistan, it was very natural that the Defence Ministers referred to the current and future security situation in the war-torn country.
Afghanistan is currently one of the four observer states along with eight full member-states of SCO. Most of the Member and Observer states have a deep interest in the peaceful future of Afghanistan, but they have their own narrow agenda to achieve this aim.
Being close neighbours of Afghanistan, the SCO members have a bigger collective responsibility to ensure a peaceful future for the Afghan people. However, sadly, some of the member-states have encouraged forces, that want to forcefully occupy the Kabul throne through violence. This may result in heavy bloodshed. All member nations must realise that a peaceful Afghanistan will usher in peace and prosperity in the entire region.
SCO, which completed two decades of its existence this year, has collective stakes to create a safe and secure region. However, some of the SCO members have been playing a dubious role in encouraging such forces that are bent upon capturing power in Afghanistan through violent means.
Strategic Observers also point to the wicked behaviour of some member states whose official agencies instigate terrorist groups to indulge in cross border terrorism and create war-like situations on the border areas by making incursions into the neighbours’ territories, disregarding the mandate of the SCO to respect the sentiments of fellow member-states and create a peaceful atmosphere.
In this backdrop, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stressed to the eight-member Eurasian group that India accords the highest priority to the consolidation of trust in the security domain within SCO as well as strengthening ties with SCO partners. Mr. Rajnath Singh once again reminded the SCO partners that terrorism remains the most serious threat to international peace and security. He reaffirmed India’s resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
Stressing the importance of the regional grouping, Mr Rajnath Singh said that the SCO nations together encompass nearly half the human population on our planet. In terms of geography, it covers three-fifths of the Eurasian continent. Mr Singh also reiterated India’s commitment to partner with fellow SCO member to develop joint institutional capacities that respect individual national sensitivities and yet generate a spirit of cooperation. Referring to the non-traditional security threat currently faced by SCO members, the Indian Defence Minister said that the Covid-19 pandemic affected nations, civil societies and citizens in multiple ways.
Citing India’s contribution to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Mr. Singh said India provided support to 90 countries with 6.6 crore vaccine doses along with medicines, medical consumables and equipment to 150 countries. India also helped in repatriating many foreigners to their home countries. The Defence Minister referred to the stellar role played by tje Indian armed forces in countering COVID-19 challenges.
As a responsible member of the regional grouping of the Eurasian region;
India played its role by contributing to the well being and welfare of the people and expects other members to contribute in a similar fashion. During his participation in the SCO Defence Ministers Annual Meeting, Mr. Rajnath Singh reiterated India’s commitment for a peaceful and stable Eurasian region. He said, SCO cannot remain a mute observer to the threats to peace and security in the region.