New Delhi: Taking a jibe at China over its controversial Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI), National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval Wednesday batted for connectivity as a “key priority” for India, but one that will be “consultative, transparent and connectivity” in nature. He was speaking at the 18th meeting of the Secretaries of Security Councils of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The meeting of the SCO NSAs, which is taking place in New Delhi, is being chaired by Doval as India is the SCO president for this year.
“Connectivity remains a key priority for India. We stand ready to cooperate on investing in and building connectivity in the region. While expanding connectivity, it is important to ensure that such initiatives are consultative, transparent and participatory and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries,” Doval said in his opening remarks.
This was a direct taunt at China’s BRI, under which the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has become controversial as it passes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for which India was never consulted.
Doval Wednesday also sought to include the Chabahar Port project in Iran as part of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). The INSTC, conceived in 2000 by India, Russia and Iran, is a multimodal connectivity project covering a distance of 7,200 km.
India is developing the Chabahar Port in Iran in an effort to expand its strategic footprint in that region, bypassing Pakistan.
Doval said: “India is committed to fulfilling our obligations under the INSTC and for the inclusion of the Chabahar Port within the framework of INSTC.”
Aiming at China again, the NSA highlighted the SCO Charter that stipulates “mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and inviolability of state borders, non-use of force or threat of its use in international relations and seeking no unilateral military superiority in adjacent areas”.
China and Pakistan attended the meet virtually while others participated in person.
‘Any Act Of Terrorism Is Unjustifiable’
As he did in other SCO meets, this time also NSA Doval came down heavily on the issue of terrorism and its financing.
“Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and its financing are among the most serious threats to international peace and security. Any act of terrorism, regardless of its motivation, is unjustifiable,” he said.
Doval added: “It is important therefore for all countries to fulfil the obligations enshrined in counterterrorism cooperation protocols.”
He also stressed that the SCO region is facing the brunt of the deteriorating condition of global security.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization established in 2001 and it comprises eight member states, namely, India, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
India became a full member of SCO on June 9 in 2017. The four observer states of SCO are Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia and it has six dialogue partners — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
Iran is likely to become a full SCO member later this year. The next important meetings of the SCO will be that of the foreign and defence that will take place in April, followed by the meeting of the leaders in May.