Terrorism is the most serious threat to international peace and security: RM

Text of Hon’ble Raksha Mantri’s speech in the SCO Defence Ministers’ meeting in Dushanbe, 28 July 2021

Excellency Colonel-General Sherali Mirzo, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Tajikistan, Excellency Ministers, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am overwhelmed by the ‘mehman-nawazi’ (मेहमाननवाज़ी) – the famous Tajik hospitality – during my first-ever visit to this beautiful neighbouring country. I thank Tajikistan for hosting the Meeting of Defence Ministers of member-States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. I deeply appreciate your timely decision to organize the conference despite the challenges of the pandemic.

Excellencies, through 1990s and later, Tajik people made great sacrifices to defeat fundamentalism within its territory and to uphold peace and stability in the region. Today, as we meet in this delightful Tajik capital, we must recognize that without those sacrifices and without constructive efforts by Central Asian Republics with support from the Russian Federation, situation here could have been very different.  Such recognition is all the more important, as instability and violent extremism threaten us all over again in the region.

Excellencies, I congratulate you as the SCO successfully completes 20 years of its existence. Though India joined the organization in 2017, historical and civilizational relations and geographical connects make India inseparable from the SCO.

India supports and participates in the SCO activities, including in defence cooperation programme, reflecting commitment to work closely within the SCO framework. This flows from India’s commitment to multilateralism, in which international laws must be respected, legitimate interests of partner countries are recognized and common good is upheld to build a durable framework of regional collaboration.

Excellencies, it must be appreciated that the geo-strategic location of India makes it both a Eurasian land power as well as a stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific. Our intent and aspirations are therefore focused towards prosperity and development of the entire region.  We affirm this intent through our national policy of Security and Growth for All in the Region, commonly known by the acronym ‘SAGAR’.  Security and Stability are most essential components to create conducive environment for growth and economic development of the region and our respective Nations.

SCO Nations, together, encompass nearly half the human population on our planet. In terms of geography, it covers approximately three fifths of the Eurasian continent.  We, therefore, have collective stakes to create a safe, secure and stable region that can contribute towards progress and improvement of human development indices of our people and the generations which will follow. It is in the same spirit India helps people of Afghanistan, which is facing violence and devastation over decades. So far India completed 500 projects in Afghanistan and continuing with some more with total development aid of US dollar 3 billion.

Excellencies, peace and prosperity cannot coexist with terrorism. Terrorism is the most serious threat to international peace and security.  Any act of terror and support to such acts, including cross border terrorism, committed by whomsoever, wherever and for whatever motives, is a crime against humanity.  India reaffirms its resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Excellencies, it is a fact that every process and institution must evolve to meet the needs of its time. No institution, howsoever important, can remain frozen at the moment of its foundation. The inherent strength of SCO lies in the fact that Member-States participate in cooperation programme at their own pace and as per respective national policies. We are glad that SCO has evolved as truly an international organization of significance.  Today’s event is yet another step towards strengthening stability and security in the region.  This will serve to further development of multilateral cooperation within the SCO format.

Excellencies, I extend my deep condolences to friends and families of nearly 4.2 million victims world-wide from Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has affected nations, civil societies and citizens in multiple ways. This is a warning sign of how non-traditional security challenges like pandemics, climate change, food security, water security and associated societal disruptions can impact national and international landscape. Non-traditional threats and a new technology have combined to form a whole new spectrum of sub-conventional security issues. Our armed forces have played an important role whether in phase of Covid-19 challenges or when there has been natural disaster. These issues cannot be addressed without responsible policies and co-operation among nations. India’s initiative on coalition for disaster resilient infrastructure (CDRI) aims not only at promotion of disaster resilient infrastructure, but also infrastructure risk management, standards, financing and recovery is also an example of how countries are coming together to create and share capabilities to deal with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief issues.

Another initiative of International Solar Alliance (ISA) is to promote solar energy towards of threat of climate changes. Many of members of SCO have done remarkable works on these fronts. India has plans to install 280 Giga Watt of solar energy capacity by the year 2030. Our countries can join hands to address the challenges of climate change.

Excellencies, I am glad to mention that during the global pandemic, India has been at the forefront to provide support and assistance to countries around the world. India has developed a number of Covid-19 related vaccines, drugs, diagnostic kits and equipment. This includes 66 million doses of vaccines to 94 countries and UN peacekeepers as well as support with medicine, medical consumables and equipment to treat Covid-19, to 150 countries. We may mention the massive “Vande Bharat” logistic service to move over 7 million stranded people, including substantial number of foreigners, mostly by air route, but also by our Navy ships in the Indian Ocean. Our Armed Forces and the Defence Research and Development Organization played stellar roles in our national efforts including innovation in medicine and equipment.  We are glad that from India substantial support, vaccine and medicine reached most of the SCO member states.

Excellencies, India plans to produce well over 2.5 billion doses of vaccine between August and the end of 2021. We are determined to vaccinate at least 900 million adult Indians and to help other friendly countries with vaccine. We are glad to note that India’s intervention in the Covid drug and vaccine eco-systems rapidly normalized prices worldwide.

Excellencies, India accords high priority to the consolidation of trust in the security domain within SCO as well as strengthening ties with SCO partners bilaterally on the basis of equality, mutual respect and understanding. The challenge today is not just one of concepts and norms, but equally of their sincere practice. The leading voices of the world must be examples in every way.

India reiterates its resolve to work within the SCO framework for helping create and maintain a peaceful, secure and stable region. India also reiterate readiness to partner with fellow SCO Member States to develop joint institutional capacities that respect individual national sensitivities and yet generate a spirit of cooperation to create contact and connectivity between people, societies and nations.

Let me once again thank your Excellency Defence Minister of Tajikistan for hosting us and giving this opportunity to express our views on working jointly for peace and prosperity in our shared Eurasian neighbourhood. Thank you for your attention.