Terrorism continues to constitute one of the most serious threats to international peace and regardless of its motivation or cause, the menace is “unjustifiable”, NSA Ajit Doval said on Tuesday. In an address at a conclave of NSAs of India and central Asian countries in Kazakhstan, he also offered fully funded capacity building programmes by New Delhi in a wide range of areas to the participating nations.
The National Security Advisor also said that India is ready to provide the central Asian nations with the technology relating to the United Payment Interface (UPI) free of cost for their independent use. He said that setting up of sovereign digital payment systems will greatly enhance commercial linkages between India and Central Asia and benefit people who may have to travel to India for medical treatment, according to sources.
The NSA said connectivity and economic integration with the Central Asian countries is a key priority for India. However, while promoting connectivity, it is important to ensure that connectivity initiatives are consultative, transparent, and participatory, he said.
Mr Doval said connectivity initiatives should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and that they should also adhere to environmental parameters, ensure financial viability, and not become debt burdens.
The remarks came amid increasing criticism of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
In this context, the absence of direct land access between Central Asia and India is an anomaly, he observed.
This absence of direct connectivity is the result of a conscious policy of denial by a particular country, he said in comments seen as an indirect reference to Pakistan.
Mr Doval said this situation is not only self-defeating for this country but it also reduces the collective well-being of the entire region.
He also underlined the advantages of including the Chabahar port in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
Mr Doval invited Central Asian neighbours to utilize the Chabahar port as well as its Shaheed Bahesti terminal, being operated by an Indian company, for maritime trade. He solicited support for including Chabahar port within the framework of INSTC. Both Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan will be joining the INSTC soon. With this, all five Central Asian countries will be a member of the INSTC.
The first meeting of NSAs and Secretaries of Security Councils of India and Central Asian nations was held on December 6 last year in New Delhi. Mr Doval also noted that the situation in Afghanistan remains a “cause of concern”.
Our common immediate priorities include providing humanitarian assistance, ensuring the formation of a truly inclusive and representative government combating terrorism and drug trafficking, and preserving the rights of women, children, and them minorities, he said.
India is deeply involved in the humanitarian assistance being provided to the Afghan people, he said.
In line with India’s approach to encourage sports in Afghanistan, the Afghan cricket team is in India to play in the ICC World Cup, Mr Doval said.
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