Any form of terrorism is 'crime against humanity': Rajnath at SCO meet in Tashkent

File Photo of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh
File Photo of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

New Delhi: Any form of terrorism, including cross-border terrorism, is a "crime against humanity" and the menace must be dealt with unitedly, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday at an SCO meet in Tashkent, in an oblique reference to Pakistan's support to terrorist activities against India.

With defence ministers of SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) member states, including Pakistan's Khawaja Muhammad Asif, listening, Singh said the grouping must work together to eliminate terrorism in all its forms and asserted that Afghan territory must not be used as launch pads for terrorist activities.

In his address, Singh also reaffirmed India's resolve to fight all forms of terrorism to make the region peaceful, secure and stable.

The defence minister also expressed India's "concern" over the situation in Ukraine and noted that New Delhi supports resolution of the crisis through talks between Moscow and Kyiv. Singh said there is a need to strengthen ties among the SCO member states bilaterally and within the framework of the organisation on the basis of "equality, respect and mutual understanding".

He also invited all SCO member states to visit India next year when New Delhi takes over the presidency of the grouping from Uzbekistan.

The SCO comprises India, China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan.

"Terrorism is one of the most serious challenges to global peace and security. India reiterates its resolve to fight all forms of terrorism and make the region peaceful, secure and stable," he said.

"We seek to develop joint institutional capabilities with the SCO member states, which, while respecting the sensitivities of each country, create the spirit of cooperation among individuals, societies and nations," he added.

Singh asserted that terrorism in any form, including cross-border terrorism, committed by anyone and for whatever purpose, is a crime against humanity, seen as an oblique reference to Pakistan.

The defence minister also voiced India's full support to a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan, while highlighting the need for respecting its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, national unity and non-interference in internal affairs.

He urged all parties to encourage authorities in Afghanistan to achieve national reconciliation through dialogue and negotiation and establish a broad-based, inclusive and representative political structure in the country, according to a statement issued by the defence ministry.

Singh said that the Afghan territory must not be used to intimidate or attack any country by providing safe havens and training to terrorists and supporting their activities through financial assistance.

According to the statement, the defence minister stressed on the need to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and safeguard their fundamental rights. He also underlined the importance of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions in this regard.

Singh also threw light on India's age-old ties with SCO countries, asserting that the member states of the organisation are common stakeholders in the progress and prosperity of the region.

"India accords high priority to SCO because of its unwavering belief in multilateralism. There is a need to strengthen ties with SCO member states bilaterally and within the framework of the organisation on the basis of equality, respect and mutual understanding," he said.

During exchange of pleasantries with Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu this morning, Singh conveyed his deep appreciation and thanks for arresting in Moscow a terrorist who was planning attacks in India.

Russia's top intelligence agency said on Monday that it has detained an Islamic State terrorist from a Central Asian country who underwent special training to carry out a suicide attack against a member of India's leadership elite for the offensive comments on the Prophet.

On Ukraine, Singh said:"India is concerned about the humanitarian crisis in-and-around Ukraine. We have extended our support for the efforts of the UN Secretary General, UN agencies and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to provide humanitarian assistance."

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