Countries sponsoring terrorism must be held accountable: PM Modi at SCO

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday lashed out at countries “sponsoring, aiding and funding terrorism” and told top leaders at the SCO Summit that such states must be held accountable, in a veiled reference to Pakistan whose premier Imran Khan was among the audience.

Addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit here, the PM  Modi also called for a “global conference to combat the scourge of terrorism.”

 “During my visit to Sri Lanka last Sunday, I visited the St Anthony’s church, where I witnessed the ugly face of terrorism which claims the lives of innocents anywhere,” the Prime Minister said, referring to one of the sites of the devastating Easter Sunday attacks that killed 258 people in Sri Lanka.

“To combat the menace of terrorism, countries will have to come out of their narrow purview to unite against it,” Modi said in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pakistan Prime Minister Khan and Iran President Hassan Rouhani among others.

“Countries sponsoring, aiding and funding terrorism must be held accountable,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi also called on the SCO member states to “cooperate under the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) against terrorism.”

“Literature and culture provide our societies a positive activity, specially they stop the spread of radicalisation among the youths in our society,” Modi said.

A peaceful, united, safe and prosperous Afghanistan is vital for the stability and security in the SCO.

“Our goal is to support the people and the government of Afghanistan for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled comprehensive peace process. We are happy that a further roadmap has been prepared at the SCO Afghanistan Contact Group,” he said.

It has been two years since India became a full member of the SCO. India has contributed positively in all the activities of the SCO, the Prime Minister said.

Modi arrived in the Kyrgyz capital on Thursday for the two-day SCO summit. The SCO is a China-led 8-member economic and security bloc with India and Pakistan being admitted to the grouping in 2017.

India in the past has blamed Pakistan for carrying out militant attacks in the country and asked it to stop supporting militant outfits operating from its soil.

India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by a Pakistan-based militant group, maintaining that talks and violence cannot go together.

Early this year, tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of JeM militant outfit killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)  personnel in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a counter- operation and claimed that it  hit the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot in Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was later handed over to India.