Fighting radicalization is not only necessary for regional security, but also for the bright future of younger generations in the region, said PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said recent developments in Afghanistan show radicalization is the biggest challenge to peace and security in the region.

“I believe that the biggest challenges in this area are related to peace, security and trust-deficit and the root cause of these problems is increasing radicalization. Recent developments in Afghanistan have made this challenge more apparent. SCO should take an initiative on this issue,” the Prime Minister said this in his virtual address at the plenary session of the 21st meeting of SCO Council of Heads of State in Dushanbe in Tajikistan.

He said fighting radicalization is not only necessary for regional security and mutual trust, but it is also necessary for the bright future of younger generations in the region.

Historically, the Prime Minister said, the region of Central Asia has been a bastion of moderate and progressive cultures and values. Traditions like Sufism have flourished here over the centuries and spread throughout the region and the world.

“We can still see their influence in the cultural heritage of this region. On the basis of this historical heritage of Central Asia, SCO should develop a common template to fight radicalization and extremism,” the Prime Minister said.

He further added, “The vast economic potential of this region has also remained untapped due to radicalization and insecurity, be it mineral wealth or intra-SCO trade, to take full advantage of them, we have to emphasize on mutual connectivity.”

The Prime Minister said the land-locked Central Asian countries can benefit immensely by connecting with India's vast market.

“Unfortunately, many connectivity options are not open to them today due to lack of mutual trust. Our investment in Iran's Chabahar port and our efforts towards the International North-South Corridor are driven by this reality,” the Prime Minister remarked.

Taking an apparent dig at China’s Belt and Road Initiative, he said, “Any initiative on connectivity cannot be a one-way street. The connectivity projects should be consultative, transparent and participatory to ensure mutual trust. In this regard, respect for the territorial integrity of all countries should be implicit.”

Calling on SCO member states to develop suitable norms for connectivity projects in the region, he said, “We will be able to restore the traditional connectivity of this region and only then connectivity projects will work to connect us, not to increase the distance between us. For this effort, India is ready to make any contribution from its side.”

Earlier, the Prime Minister welcomed Iran as a new member state of the SCO while Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar as new Dialogue Partners of the group.