Thu, 21 Jan 2021

New Delhi [India], November 30 (ANI): It is up to Pakistan whether or not it wants to join India-led initiatives at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting, External Affairs Ministry said on Monday and noted that the SCO charter has a provision that one country cannot prevent cooperation in areas and allows member countries which are interested to take it forward with the exclusion of the country that is opposing.

Vikas Swarup, Secretary at MEA said that India has always adhered to Article 2 of the charter of the SCO, which prohibits raising bilateral issues at the grouping's forums and hopes the "other countries" to follow the same.

Speaking after the conclusion of the 19th meeting of the SCO Council of heads of states, Swarup said: "As far as whether Pakistan is going to join (our) initiatives, it is up to them. SCO charter has a provision that one country cannot hold up cooperation in areas and allows member countries which are interested to take it forward with the exclusion of one country that is opposing," he said.

"Article 2 of the SCO charter prohibits bilateral issues from being raised in SCO forums because we all have seen that raising bilateral issues only serves to vitiate the atmosphere and holds up concrete cooperation in a whole host of areas," he said.

Swarup said: "As far as we are concerned, we have scrupulously adhered to this provision of the SCO charter. We expect other countries to also do the same. If countries come with this mindset them surely we can find common ground for mutual cooperation."He said that the SCO was created "primarily to promote peace and security to tackle the challenges of terrorism, extremism and separatism and to promote trade and cooperation and cultural partnerships among the SCO member countries.""India considers SCO as an important regional organisation to promote cooperation in the areas of peace, security, trade, economy and culture. We are committed to deepening our cooperation with SCO by playing proactive, positive and constructive role," he added.

Earlier today, India had alluded to Pakistan and raised concerns over state sponsorship of terrorism during a meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government.

Without naming Pakistan, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu who chaired the virtual meeting of the council said that "terrorism, particularly cross-border terrorism was the most important challenge faced by us." He said that India condemns terrorism in all its manifestations but is particularly concerned about countries which use terror as an instrument of state policy.

Naidu also criticised Pakistan for attempting to use SCO to raise bilateral matters. "It's unfortunate to note that there had been attempts to deliberately bring bilateral issues into SCO and blatantly violate well-established principles and norms of SCO charter. Such acts are counterproductive to the spirit of consensus that defined SCO," he said.

In September India had walked out of a virtual meeting of national security advisers of SCO in September after the Pakistani representative projected a map that inaccurately depicted the borders of the two countries.

This is the first time that the summit-level meeting is being held under India's chairmanship since the country gained full membership of the organisation.

India assumed the Chairmanship of the SCO Council of Heads of Government on November 2, 2019, as per rotation from the previous Chair - Uzbekistan and completes its year-long tenure on November 30 by hosting the 19th session of the SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG). (ANI)

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