NEW DELHI: India Tuesday walked out of a virtual meeting of the SCO NSAs after Pakistan sought to project, as Indian officials described it, a fictitious map showing Indian territory as its own.
The Indian delegation led by NSA Ajit Doval strongly objected to the use of this illegal map by Pakistan, said official sources. They added that Russia, which chaired the meeting, tried very hard to persuade Pakistan not to display the map and expressed hope this provocative act won’t affect India’s participation in SCO.
Pakistan PM Imran Khan had last month issued a new map showing the entire erstwhile state of J&K, now organised into 2 separate union territories, in Pakistan. The map was used as the background image for the meeting by Pakistan. As the Russians had said ahead of the SCO foreign ministers meeting last week, the SCO Charter doesn’t allow any country to raise bilateral disputes even as it provides them a platform to build mutual trust.
In an official response to Pakistan’s action at the NSA meeting, India said the Pakistan representative, Moeed Yusuf, deliberately projected a fictitious map that Pakistan has recently been propagating.
“This was in blatant disregard to the advisory by the host against it and in violation of the norms of the meeting,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, adding that after consultation with the host, the Indian side left the meeting in protest at that juncture. Yusuf as special assistant to Pakistan PM on national security.
As was to be expected, Srivastava said, Pakistan then went on to present a misleading view of this meeting. Pakistan media reports said that India’s “spurious claims” were rejected after Pakistan stated the map represented Pakistan’s rights and the aspirations of the Kashmiris.
Official sources said Pakistan’s use of a fictitious map as a backdrop for its representative depicting sovereign Indian territories as part of Pakistan was a blatant violation of the SCO Charter and against all its established norms of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of SCO member-states.
Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary of the National Security Council of Russian Federation, later conveyed to Indian authorities that he was personally very grateful to NSA for attending the SCO Summit, according to sources.
“Russia does not support what Pakistan has done and hopes that Pakistan’s provocative act will not affect India’s participation in SCO and definitely not cast any shadow on Patrushev’s warm personal relationship with NSA for whom he has the highest regard,” said a source, adding that Patrushev hoped to see Doval at forthcoming events.
Despite the presence of Pakistan, with which it has no substantive bilateral engagement, India continues to take SCO, an influential Eurasian group focused on security and political issues, seriously and is the host this year of the heads of government meeting.
It has already said it will invite the Pakistan PM “as per established practice and procedure” of SCO. While Russia wants the 2 countries to use SCO to find some “common ground”, it’s unlikely that will happen anytime soon with India unwilling to settle for anything less than zero tolerance to terrorism and Pakistan focused on Kashmir.