Countering terrorism in the background of terrorism emanating from Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) region will be the top agenda for India during the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet this month. At the SCO, New Delhi will focus primarily on regional security in view of growing terror activities and drug trafficking from the AfPak region, sources told The Daily Guardian. Sources also told TDG that the SCO members would be discussing the ways to ensure stability in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s regime. “Already, most SCO member countries stress the need to put pressure on the Taliban to address the humanitarian issues in Afghanistan,” sources said. “What causes more concern to India is that the Af-Pak region is emerging as a hot-bed of radicalism and terrorism,” sources told this newspaper. With Pakistan likely to be present in the SCO meeting here this month, India would want other countries of the group to give Islam abad a bold message on the issue of terrorism. Final dates for the meeting of SCO will be announced soon, an official said. The SCO is the only regional organization which can put pressure on the Taliban’s regime, say diplomats. In this context, the four senior officials’ meeting and the SCO Film Festival are scheduled to take place this month. Senior officials and national coordinators have met in Varanasi, which has been designated as the first-ever tourist and cultural capital of SCO for 2022-23. India took over the Presidency of the grouping last year at the SCO Samarkand summit and will for the first time hold the summit of the grouping this year. Other than the summit, India will hold the foreign, defence and NSA-level meetings of the grouping as well. The SCO is a regional organisation focussing primarily on Central Asia and its neighbourhood. In addition to this, the SCO is a pivotal organisation for any country seeking to play a role in Central Asia. Significantly, the states of Central Asia, which are members of the SCO, look forward to India as a stabilizer and a balancer in the region. “Widening inclusive connectivity and increasing trade in Central Asia-Eurasia will also be key agenda for India during the SCO meet,” sources said. In March, NSA of the SCO countries would discuss all these issues, with key focus on terrorism from Af-Pak region. India wants SCO to contribute to counter growing radical views and extremism in Eurasia and Central Asia as well. At the last SCO summit under the Uzbek presidency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called upon the group’s member states to give transit access to each other in what was viewed as a message to Pakistan. The SCO consists of eight members, namely China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
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