Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

Rajnath highlights Afghan crisis at SCO, talks about 500 development projects by India

New Delhi:  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh highlighting India’s role in Afghanistan’s development made an oblique reference to Pakistan and China’s role in helping the Taliban and South China dispute during his address at Shanghai Cooperation Organization meet in Tajikistan.

Singh is attending Shanghai Cooperation Organization Defence Ministers’ annual meet in Tajikistan.

He said SCO member nations, together, encompass nearly half the human population on the planet and in terms of geography, it covers approximately three-fifth of the Eurasian continent.

“We, therefore, have collective stakes to create a safe, secure and stable region that can contribute towards progress and improvement of human development indices of our people and the generations which will follow,” he said.

It is in the same spirit, the minister said that India helps people of Afghanistan, who have been facing violence and devastation for decades.

“So far, India completed 500 projects in Afghanistan and continuing with some more with total development aid of $3 billion,” he said.

He said that peace and prosperity cannot coexist with terrorism.

Terrorism is the most serious threat to international peace and security. “Any act of terror and support to such acts, including cross border terrorism, committed by whomsoever, wherever and for whatever motives, is a crime against humanity,” said the minister adding that India reaffirms its resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

India supports and participates in the SCO activities, including in defence cooperation programme, reflecting commitment to work closely within the SCO framework.

This flows from India’s commitment to multilateralism, in which international laws must be respected, legitimate interests of partner countries are recognized and common good is upheld to build a durable framework of regional collaboration.

“It must be appreciated that the geo-strategic location of India makes it both a Eurasian land power as well as a stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific. Our intent and aspirations are therefore focused towards prosperity and development of the entire region,” he said.

“We affirm this intent through our national policy of Security and Growth for All in the Region, commonly known by the acronym ‘SAGAR’. Security and Stability are most essential components to create conducive environment for growth and economic development of the region and our respective Nations.”

He also expressed condolences to friends and families of nearly 4.2 million victims world-wide from Covid-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has affected nations, civil societies and citizens in multiple ways.

“This is a warning sign of how non-traditional security challenges like pandemics, climate change, food security, water security and associated societal disruptions can impact national and international landscape,” the minister said.

Non-traditional threats and a new technology have combined to form a whole new spectrum of sub-conventional security issues.

“Our armed forces have played an important role whether in case of Covid-19 challenges or when there has been natural disaster,” he said

The minister said that India has been at the forefront to provide support and assistance to countries around the world. India has developed a number of Covid-19 related vaccines, drugs, diagnostic kits and equipment.

This includes 66 million doses of vaccines to 94 countries and UN peacekeepers as well as support with medicine, medical consumables and equipment to treat Covid-19, to 150 countries.

“We may mention the massive “Vande Bharat” logistic service to move over 7 million stranded people, including substantial number of foreigners, mostly by air route, but also by our Navy ships in the Indian Ocean,” he said.

Singh stressed that Armed Forces and the Defence Research and Development Organization played stellar roles in our national efforts including innovation in medicine and equipment.

“We are glad that from India substantial support, vaccine and medicine reached most of the SCO member states,” he said.


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