Even during COVID, menace of terrorism continued: Candid Jaishankar tells Bhutto, Qin Gang others

Amid presence of Foreign ministers of Pakistan and China, India’s External Affairs minister makes things loud and clear

| Updated: 05 May, 2023 1:17 pm IST

BENAULIM (GOA): India’s smooth-looking, tough-talking External Affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar made his country’s stance clear as he stressed that there can be no justification for terrorism.

Speaking at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Goa, amid the presence of China and Pakistan, Dr Jaishankar said that terrorism must be stopped in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism.

He also reminded the countries that combating terrorism is one of the original mandates of the SCO.

“While the world was engaged in facing COVID and its consequences, the menace of terrorism continued unabated. Taking our eyes off this menace will be detrimental to our security interests,” Dr Jaishankar said.

“We firmly believe that there can be no justification for terrorism and that it must be stopped in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism. The channel of finances for terrorist activities must be seized and blocked without distinction,” he said.

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Dr Jaishankar’s speech is seen as a clear message to China and Pakistan. While India has been battling Pakistan’s support for cross-border terrorism, China, of late, has stepped up its incursions into Indian territory, especially eastern Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.

Dr Jaishankar’s comments also hold significance as they came amid attacks on India’s armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan-based terror outfits.

China, meanwhile, had been steadfastly defending its all-weather partner, Pakistan, at international forums, helping it escape severe international sanctions for its missteps.

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Earlier in the day, EAM Jaishankar welcomed the Foreign Ministers of Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia and China for the meeting.

Even during the welcoming session, Dr Jaishankar’s body language spoke volumes as he met warmly with everyone while he sort of harried Pakistan Foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari out of the stage.

Talking about the state of affairs in war-torn Afghanistan, which concerns the SCO countries, Dr Jaishankar said, “The unfolding situation in Afghanistan remains at the centre of our attention. Our efforts should be directed towards the welfare of the Afghan people.”

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Setting up the priorities, he added, “Our immediate priorities include providing humanitarian assistance, ensuring a truly representative government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities.”

“India has always stood for multilateral approaches to address global challenges,” he further added.

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S Jaishankar, in his speech, also sought the support of member states for the long-standing demand of India to make English the third official language of the SCO.

“I am pleased to note that the discussion on issues of reform and modernization of the SCO has already commenced… I also seek the support of member states for the long-standing demand of India to make English the 3rd official language of the SCO, to enable a deeper engagement with English-speaking member states,” Jaishankar said.

The EAM also added that, as SCO chair, India has initiated an unprecedented engagement with SCO observers and dialogue partners by inviting them to participate in more than 14 social-cultural events.

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