Pro-India Kashmiri leaders meet Narendra Modi for the first time since disputed region lost its special status in 2019.
Pakistan’s national security adviser has criticised regional “spoilers” who he accuses of attempting to derail the Afghan peace process, while condemning “state terrorism against people under illegal occupation”, a thinly veiled dig at eastern neighbour and longtime rival, India.
Speaking at a meeting of national security advisers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the Tajik capital Dushanbe on Wednesday, Moeed Yusuf said achieving peace in Afghanistan was the region’s most immediate priority.
“Failure to attain peace in Afghanistan [is] the most immediate challenge facing [the] SCO today,” a statement issued by Yusuf’s office quoted him as telling the meeting of NSAs from eight countries, including India, Russia and China.
The meeting was also attended by SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov.
Yusuf “cautioned against spoilers, both within and outside Afghanistan”, adding that “unfortunately, not everyone in the region who professes to prefer peace in Afghanistan does so in reality,” his office said.
A joint declaration signed by all participants affirmed that “one of the key factors in maintaining peace, security and stability in the SCO region is the earliest possible settlement of the situation in Afghanistan and the establishment of a lasting peace in this country”.
Relations between India and Pakistan have remained virtually frozen since February 2019 when a bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir killed more than 40 security personnel in an attack India blamed on a Pakistan-based armed group.
The ensuing standoff saw the nuclear-armed countries conduct air attacks on each others’ territory, a situation that was only defused after Pakistan returned an Indian fighter pilot whose jet had been shot down by the Pakistani air force.
On Wednesday, Yusuf repeated accusations that Pakistan was facing attacks sponsored from abroad, without naming India on this occasion.
“Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism planned, supported and sponsored from across our borders which unfortunately remains a reality even today and has at its roots actors who may present themselves as advocates of global cooperation against terrorism but in reality perpetuate it to create instability in our country and the region,” his office quoted him as saying.
India had not formally responded to the allegation as of the time of publication of this report, but it has routinely denied such allegations in the past.
A detailed statement issued by the SCO after the NSA meeting said a number of issues had been discussed by the participants, including regional security, anti-drug trafficking operations, organised crime, information security and counterterrorism operations.
“The rejection of the application of the policy of ‘double standards’ in relation to terrorists, separatists and extremists was confirmed,” read the SCO statement.