(This was originally posted in The Hindu by Kallol Bhattacherjee)
The challenge of radicalisation has been highlighted by the developments in Afghanistan, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday. Addressing the 21st meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Mr Modi said the fight against radicalisation is necessary for increasing trust among the member countries of the SCO.
“The biggest challenges in this region are related to peace, security and trust deficit and the main reason behind these challenges lies in increasing radicalisation. The recent developments in Afghanistan have highlighted the challenge. SCO should take the initiative to counter this problem,” said Prime Minister Modi addressing the meeting in the virtual format.
The meeting being hosted by Tajikistan also saw the inclusion of Iran as a new member of the SCO. Mr. Modi welcomed the move and also praised the step to include Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar as new dialogue partners of the regional organisation.
The Prime Minister stressed upon the importance of moderate Islam in Central Asia and urged member countries to counter religious extremism and radicalisation and said, “Historically, this region has been a fortress of progressive and moderate cultural traditions. Sufi order prospered here for centuries. This tradition grew here and was spread across the world. Based on this historic heritage of Central Asia, SCO should develop a common template to fight radicalisation and extremism.”
Mr. Modi praised the counter terror work that has been carried out by the RATS mechanism of the SCO. He said India expects to receive cooperation from the SCO members on the suggestions that it had made at the Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) which is headquartered in Tashkent.
The ongoing meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is being attended by External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar who is in Dushanbe and is expected to hold important discussions on Afghanistan with the representatives of the member countries. The situation in Afghanistan is far from stabilising after a month of takeover by the Taliban which spent most of the post-takeover days fighting off a challenge from the Tajik fighters in the Panjshir Valley.
The Prime Minister thanked the President of Tajikistan Imomali Rahmon for hosting the summit in the challenging circumstances and greeted “all Tajik people”. He said radicalisation and extremism has been a barrier to development in the region and urged the member countries to promote “rational thinking”.
Mr. Modi said India’s investment in the Iranian port of Chabahar and the International North-South Corridor is indicative of India’s commitment to increase connectivity with the Central Asian region. “We believe the landlocked Central Asian countries can benefit immensely by connecting with the huge market of India,” said Mr Modi.