S Jaishankar backs Chabahar; Pak roots for CPEC

India-Pakistan differences on an inclusive connectivity route in Eurasia came to the fore at the SCO Foreign Minister’s meet in Tashkent on Friday with India emphasising on use of Iran’s Chabahar port financed by New Delhi while Pakistan focused on the use of China Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC.

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar addressing the meet also highlighted that the world faced an energy and food crisis due to disruptions from the Covid pandemic and Ukraine conflict and this ought to be urgently addressed. The response required included resilient and diversified supply chains as well as reformed multilateralism, the Minister suggested. The Minister in the presence of his Pakistani counterpart also called for zero tolerance for terrorism in all its manifestations.

At the SCO, foreign ministers meet held to prepare for the Summit in mid-September held under Uzbek Presidency, India emphasised on use of Iran’s Chabahar port financed by it while Pakistan focused on the China-backed CPEC – crown jewel of BRI but one that passes through PoK violating India’s sovereignty.

ET had reported on Friday that India will underline the significance of the inclusive connectivity link – Chabahar port for Central Asian States besides Afghanistan to connect with the Indian Ocean Region. Pakistan is pushing for Afghanistan’s entry into CPEC, a move opposed by India as any CPEC project violates the country’s sovereignty.

At the meet on Friday Jaishankar highlighted India’s support to Afghan people with vaccines, wheat and medicines. Further he welcomed Iran’s entry in the SCO and emphasised that SCO members could use Chabahar port. On Thursday night Jaishankar met his Kazakh counterpart and on Friday he held meetings with his Uzbek and Kyrgyz counterparts besides SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming.

He was part of the SCO Foreign Ministers group along with his counterparts from China, Russia and Pakistan to call on the Uzbek President.

Jaishankar later tweeted, “Spoke of the economic progress in India, stressing the relevance of startups and innovation. Cooperation in traditional medicine is in the common interest of SCO members. Today’s meeting of Foreign Ministers was very useful in preparing for the Samarkand summit.” Jaishankar announced that India will give fullest support for the Summit and appreciated the momentum generated by the Uzbek Presidency of SCO in the fields of security, economy, trade, connectivity and culture.

The SCO Foreign Ministers focussed in a major way on expansion of SCO. While Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia would sign pacts to get dialogue partner status of SCO, Bahrain and Maldives will get dialogue partners status. This will be on agenda at the SCO summit in September.

The process started for Belarus’s full membership of SCO. Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal would get observer status in SCO.

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Roy Walsh

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