Modi says SCO should make 'common template' to right radicalisation of Islam; praises Sufism's influence in region

Increasing extremism and radicalisation are the biggest threat to global peace, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the nine-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit Friday, as he drew attention to the Taliban's takeover in Afghanistan

Sep 17, 2021
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Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit

Increasing extremism and radicalisation are the biggest threat to global peace, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the nine-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit Friday, as he drew attention to the Taliban's takeover in Afghanistan. Modi highlighted India's concerns over regional stability and asked the SCO member states, which includes China and Pakistan, to ensure the grouping works closely together on issues like connectivity and trust.

"Today, we can see what is happening in Afghanistan. As SCO members it is a must for us all to ensure that there is no radicalisation and extremism on the rise there," Modi said at the SCO summit held in hybrid format amid the COVID-19 pandemic. External Affairs S Jaishankar is attending the summit physically at Dushanbe, Tajikistan. 

"If we take a look at history, we will find that Central Asia has been a bastion of moderate and progressive cultures and values. Sufism flourished here over the centuries and spread throughout the region and the world. We can still see them in the cultural heritage of this region," Modi said. "Based on this historical heritage of Central Asia, SCO should make a common template of fighting radicalisation and extremism. In India, and in almost all the countries of the SCO, there are moderate, tolerant and inclusive institutions and traditions associated with Islam," Modi said.

The US pullout from Afghanistan after a 20-year war on terror has led to new alignments, with Pakistan seen closely working with the Taliban again and China also coming into the picture by engaging with the new Taliban regime. India, which had started several infrastructure projects in Afghanistan when US forces were patrolling across the mostly barren and rocky country, has withdrawn its diplomatic mission staff from Kabul, NDTV said. 

 Welcoming Iran to the SCO as the ninth member, Modi said India is helping increase connectivity in Afghanistan via Iran's Chabahar Port, and such projects should be done by "respecting each nation's sovereignty" - a subtle hint at the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC which India doesn't recognise as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

"We believe that landlocked Central Asian countries can benefit immensely by connecting with India's vast market... Connectivity projects must be consultative, transparent and participatory to ensure mutual trust. It must respect the territorial integrity of all nations and SCO should form norms for connectivity projects based on these principles," Modi said.
 
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar have joined the SCO as dialogue partners, while Iran joined as a full member.

 The SCO was formed in June 2001 with Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as members. India and Pakistan became full members in June 2017. The SCO says its main goals are strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states.