Bishkek: India has refused to endorse China’s flagship connectivity programme — Belt and Road Initiative — with the Bishkek declaration of SCO’s head of state council only mentioning names of six countries backing it. (Also read: India, Kyrgyztan Strategic Partners; Here’s List of Documents Exchanged in Bishkek)

The declaration said, “The Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,  the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan reaffirm their support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative and praise the results of the  Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (Beijing, 26 April 2019).”

The six countries also note the ongoing work to implement BRI initiative together, including the efforts to align the Eurasian Economic Union projects with those under the Belt and Road initiative.

India has raised concerns about BRI since part of it — the CPEC (China Pakistan economic corridor) — passes through Pakistani occupied Kashmir. At the SCO Summit, PM Narendra Modi said connectivity projects should be “transparent”, “inclusive” and respect the “territorial integrity” of countries, a message that will not go unnoticed in Beijing.

But the SCO members, India, Pakistan, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, agreed to “expand the practice of using national currencies in transactions” between themselves which will be seen as challenging the dominance of US Dollar.

The declaration also said, “Member States, stressing that acts of terrorism and extremism cannot be justified, believe it important to take comprehensive measures to intensify efforts against terrorism and its ideology”.

It called for passage of India-proposed Comprehensive Convention on  International Terrorism or CCIT that calls for common definition on terrorism.

Along with India, other SCO members such as Afghanistan also strongly raised the issue of terror. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani highlighted the link between Terror and Narcotics and said they “threaten both our wellbeing and the security of CSO members and observers.”

Iran President Hassan Rouhani said, “Terrorism, in its different types, extremism, unilateralism and interference of extra-regional countries in the affairs of other regions and interference in the internal affairs of other countries have put the international community in a grave situation”. (Sidhant Sibal)