Addressing cross-border terror is one of the key challenges for SAARC i.e. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. This is because this cross-border terror is becoming an obstacle in connectivity and trade. External affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday that it is the responsibility of SAARC to overcome and ensure lasting peace and security in the region.
Jaishankar made the remark while addressing an informal virtual meeting of foreign ministers of the eight-member grouping; whose functioning has stalled because of differences between India and Pakistan. This meeting of foreign ministers is an annual event held on the margins of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York that has been marked by testy exchanges between India and Pakistan in recent years.
In a string of tweets, Jaishankar highlighted the contents and quoted that “Cross-border terrorism, blocking connectivity; and obstructing trade are three key challenges that SAARC must overcome. Only then will we see enduring peace, prosperity, and security in our South Asia region.”
“Over the last 35 years, SAARC has made significant progress. But our efforts towards collective collaboration; and prosperity have been hampered by acts of terrorism and; threats to national security,” he said in his speech.
He added further “Such an environment impedes our shared objective of realising the full potential of our collective endeavour. It is, therefore, crucial that we collectively resolve to defeat the scourge of terrorism; including the forces that nurture, support, and encourage it. This will generate the much-needed trust and confidence to collectively build a stronger and prosperous SAARC.”
He didn’t mention out the name of any country in it but it; was quite obvious that he is referring to Pakistan. India has accused Pakistan of backing cross-border terror, especially in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
Earlier this year after India created an emergency corona virus disease (COVID-19) fund for SAARC states; Pakistan asked for it to be placed under the grouping’s secretariat. Jaishankar said he has also reaffirmed India’s commitment; to it’s “neighbourhood first” policy and towards building a connected; integrated, secure, and prosperous South Asia.
Jaishankar also highlighted India’s COVD-19 related cooperation efforts; including a commitment of $10 million, to the emergency fund for the region; the supply of essential drugs, medical consumables; and protection and test kits to the region and a video conference of health professionals; from the region to share information; and best practices on the pandemic.
Plus, he also pointed to India’s support for neighbours; such as the extension of $150 million, $200 million, and $400 million foreign currency swap support for the Maldives; Bhutan, and Sri Lanka, respectively.
Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke of his country’s “willingness to host the 19th SAARC Summit and for obstacles created in its way to be removed for SAARC to function as an effective instrument of regional cooperation. The summit was scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November 2016; but was called off after an attack on an Indian Army camp at Uri in Kashmir; that was blamed on Pakistan-based terrorists.