India and Pakistan accuse each other in disguises during a summit of foreign ministers from member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Wednesday. This is the first international virtual panel where the two foreign ministers have shared platforms since the global pandemic COVID-19 began.
The security challenges we face today are not related to physical or political boundaries, said Foreign Minister S. Jaishakar. “Even as the world fights COVID-19, some people are busy spreading other deadly viruses like terrorism. Fake news and recorded videos are also used to divide communities and countries, ” the minister said. Terrorism, he said, continues to be a major threat to security and stability in the SCO region and will require collective action.
The meeting was held in the background of the COVID-19 pandemic and to discuss coordination of efforts to address trade, economic and social consequences. The foreign ministers also discussed preparations for a SCO Council of Heads of State meeting to be held in St Petersburg later this year. They also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the 75th anniversary of World War II.
India and Pakistan officially joined the SCO as members in 2017. SCO is a new multilateral organization that focuses primarily on connectivity and cooperation in Central Asia. Jaishankar noted that India attaches great importance to its relationship with the SCO and has contributed positively to increasing the role of the SCO in the global arena. He said India would continue to maintain broad involvement to strengthen the potential of the SCO in ensuring mutually beneficial development. Expressing concern over the ways in which pandemics have befallen humans, he said for a society like India, that means many people will not escape poverty without their mistakes. He said supply chains around the world had been disrupted and the SCO had to jointly identify new ways and ways to sustain economic growth.
Pakistan also used a platform to carry out excavations in India, when its foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke about Islamophobia, even though he did not name India. The accusation of Islamophobia in India has damaged the international image of the country in recent times, first during the clashes after the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act, and then during locking when the Tablighi Jamaat infection cohort was discovered.
“When we observe the 75th anniversary of the victory against fascism, militarism and harsh nationalism, we must ensure that such xenophobic ideologies, including Islamophobia, find no acceptance in the world today,” he said. He added that “we must not allow anyone to use allegations related to terrorism as a political tool to slander any country, race or religion. We must condemn and hold accountable the perpetrators of state terrorism including those under illegal occupation “.
The meeting was organized by Russian foreign minister Swergei Lavrov; Russia is the current chairman of the group.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi focused, indirectly, with his fingers pointing towards China. The Asian giant has fought hard against accusations, largely spearheaded by US President Donald Trump, that he hid the facts about the infection, and that the pandemic could be overcome if China remained uncovered and unclear about developments in Wuhan, the origin of the disease. Yi called on countries to overcome differences and increase international cooperation, on people to oppose pessimism and reject politicization, on the media to stick to facts and truth and commit to impartiality. “He said,” Let’s promote the solidarity and cooperation of the global struggle against COVID-19. “
China proposes to optimize the mechanism of notification of SCO infectious diseases and create a database of SCO epidemics. Yi said cooperation about risks related to biological safety needs attention. “We need to study positively the formation of SCO cooperation and consultation mechanisms to strengthen communication about regional and international developments,” he said.