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At SCO Summit, PM Modi Sends Across a Veiled Message to China and Pakistan

PM Narendra Modi speaks at the virtual SCO Summit meeting on Tuesday (Twitter/MEA spokesperson)

PM Narendra Modi speaks at the virtual SCO Summit meeting on Tuesday (Twitter/MEA spokesperson)

For the first time since the LAC stand-off in eastern Ladakh, PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping came together at a common platform at a virtual meeting of the leaders of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Tuesday.

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Maha Siddiqui

For the first time since the LAC stand-off in eastern Ladakh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping came together at a common platform. A virtual meeting of the leaders of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was held virtually on Tuesday. The heads of state summit also saw Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan registering his presence.

Modi took a veiled dig at both China and Pakistan at the forum. “India believes that to improve connectivity it is important to respect for the other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said/ Better connectivity in the SCO region has been India’s pitch since it was inducted as a full-fledged member in 2018.

In a restricted session that year, Modi had said, “We have again reached a stage where physical and digital connectivity is changing the definition of geography. Therefore, connectivity with our neighbourhood and in the SCO region is our priority,”

While India points out that its infrastructure push is solely for the purpose of connectivity, it compares its move to the motive behind China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Many strategic analysts warn that China’s infrastructure development bid is not only trapping many countries in debt but that it is creating strategic assets for itself in the bargain too.

India has had concerns with regard to the flagship BRI project – the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India had not attended even the inaugural BRI summit in 2017 citing a strong objection to CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. A spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs had then said, “No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Modi on Tuesday also sent out a message to Pakistan to refrain from dragging bilateral issues on multilateral platforms like the SCO. “It is unfortunate that there are repeated attempts to drag bilateral issues on the SCO agenda. This is a violation of the SCO Charter and Shanghai spirit,” he said.

This was in the context of Pakistan trying to internationalise the issue of Kashmir by raising it at various fora. In fact, during that SCO meeting of the National Security Advisors virtual meeting in September, Pakistan NSA Moeed Yusuf used the new political map of Pakistan as a backdrop, forcing his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval to leave the meeting after registering a strong complaint. The new map shows parts of Indian territory in Pakistan. India had already rejected the map as an “exercise in political absurdity”.

Government sources had said Pakistan’s use of a fictitious map as a backdrop for its representative depicting sovereign Indian territories as part of the country is a blatant violation of the SCO Charter and against all its established norms of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of SCO member states.


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