SCO Sumit 2018: Arguments of political convenience to provide alibi for terror groups no longer tolerable: Sitharaman

Asserting that the world has now realised that there are "no good terrorists", Indiatoday said that arguments of political convenience to provide an alibi for terrorist organisations are no longer tolerable, in an apparent reference to Pakistan which is blamed for providing safe havens to terror groups attacking its neighbours.

Speaking at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Defence Ministers' meeting here, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman raised issues such as cross-border terrorism, extremism, cyber security and narcotics trafficking.

"These issues require solutions based on cooperative frameworks that involve all countries and stakeholders," she said.

Raising the issue of cross-border terrorism in presence of Pakistan Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, Sitharaman said any support to terrorism are no longer tolerable.

"Arguments of political convenience to provide an alibi for terrorist organisations that support terrorism through material support or otherwise are no longer tolerable. Indeed, as the world has now realised, there are no good terrorists," she said.

India and Afghanistan blame Pakistan for providing safe havens to terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network.

The Haqqani network has carried out a number of kidnapping and attacks against US interests in Afghanistan. The group is also blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people.

"We must adopt an uncompromising approach towards the persisting threat of terrorism in Afghanistan. India is committed to assist Afghanistan in regaining stability, including cooperation in building capabilities of Afghan security forces," she said.

Sitharaman, who is on her maiden visit to China after becoming defence minister, also said that new centres of influence have developed, especially in Asia, leading to geo-strategic rivalries.

"As SCO members, we can work towards greater coordination and move towards peace and stability," she said at the SCO Defence Ministers' meeting.

"A young and dynamic India, with an economy growing at 7-8 per cent per year, joins the SCO, seeking to usher in a new phase of cooperation. I invite everyone to work actively with India towards a partnership of peace and shared prosperity," the defence minister said.

The SCO, headquartered in Beijing, was founded in 2001.

Comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India and Pakistan, the SCO aims at military cooperation between the member states and involves intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism operations in Central Asia and joint work against cyber terrorism.

India and Pakistan were admitted last year into the organisation in which China plays an influential role.

Sitharaman said India will participate strongly in SCO's Peace Mission joint military exercises being held in Russia later this year.

"We believe that cooperation in SCO framework will help further strengthen India's bilateral defence ties in the region," she added.



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