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India, Pakistan should not bring their disputes into SCO, organization’s chief says

India and Pakistan were granted full SCO membership in mid-2017
SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov  EPA-EFE/HOW HWEE YOUNG
SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov

BEIJING, March 20. /TASS/. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is not dealing with settling bilateral differences and disputes, the security alliance’s Secretary General Vladimir Norov told a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

"Before joining the SCO as full-fledged members, India and Pakistan undertook responsibility to strictly comply with all provisions in the regulatory and legal framework, which had been developed by the organization’s member-states," Norov said.

"One of such principal commitments is not to bring into the SCO family any bilateral contradictions and differences as the SCO is not dealing with settling disputable bilateral issues, whether they are related to border, water or other issues in relations between certain member-states," he said.

According to the SCO chief, "these issues should be solved and are settled through bilateral consultations and dialogue, good will and mutual reasonable compromises." "India and Pakistan in SCO have areas of common interest and are ready to work in the SCO format to ensure regional security, jointly counter complex challenges and threats, and stable social and economic development. This was declared by the leadership of India and Pakistan at a summit in Qingdao [in June last year]," Norov stressed.

The accession into SCO of two major and influential South Asian states is of special importance for the organization and the Eurasian region, and also for these states, he noted. "Finding themselves at one negotiating table, especially on a regular basis and in different formats, India and Pakistan have been in the process of a constant dialogue on all issues of the SCO current agenda," the secretary general said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated on February 14, when a suicide attacker rammed a car filled with explosives into an Indian paramilitary convoy in Jammu and Kashmir, killing 45. The Jaish-e-Mohammed group, which aims at separating Kashmir from India and bringing it under Pakistan’s control, claimed responsibility for the attack.

New Delhi accused Islamabad of supporting terrorists who allegedly carry out raids on Indian territory from Pakistan-based camps. In addition, India claimed to have evidence that Pakistani military and its intelligence agencies could be behind the attack. In response, Islamabad rejected these accusations.

On February 26, India’s Foreign Ministry said the country’s Air Force had destroyed the largest militant camp belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammed group near the Pakistani town of Balakot. The Pakistan Air Force responded by saying that it had carried out airstrikes on Indian military targets in Jammu and Kashmir.

After this incident, which was the first massive air combat between the Indian and Pakistani fighters since the third Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, New Delhi and Islamabad claimed to have downed each other’s fighter jets.

The Declaration on the Establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was signed in China’s Shanghai in June 2001 by six founding states - Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan were granted full SCO membership on June 9, 2017. Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia currently enjoy observer status, while Sri Lanka, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal are dialogue partners.