Terrorism remains one of the most serious threats to international peace and regardless of its motivation or cause, the threat is “unjustified”, NSA Ajit Doval said on Tuesday. Addressing a conclave of NSAs from India and Central Asian countries in Kazakhstan, he also offered New Delhi’s fully funded capacity building programs in a wide range of areas to the participating countries.
The National Security Advisor also said that India is ready to provide Central Asian countries with the technology related to United Payment Interface (UPI) free of charge for independent use. He said setting up sovereign digital payment systems will significantly strengthen commercial ties between India and Central Asia and benefit people who may need to travel to India for medical treatment, sources said.
The NSA said connectivity and economic integration with Central Asian countries are a top 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 must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and must also take into account environmental parameters, ensure financial viability and not become a debt burden.
The comments came amid mounting criticism of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
In this context, the lack of direct land access between Central Asia and India is an anomaly, he noted.
This absence of direct connectivity is the result of a deliberate policy of denial by a particular country, he said in remarks seen as an indirect reference to Pakistan.
Mr Doval said this situation is not only self-defeating for this country, but also detrimental to the collective well-being of the entire region.
He also underlined the benefits of including Chabahar Port in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
Mr Doval invited Central Asian neighbors to use Chabahar port and Shaheed Bahesti terminal, operated by an Indian company, for maritime trade. He sought support for including Chabahar port under INSTC. Both Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan will soon join the INSTC. This makes all five Central Asian countries members of the INSTC.
The first meeting of NSAs and Secretaries of Security Councils of India and Central Asian countries was held in New Delhi on December 6 last year. Mr Doval also noted that the situation in Afghanistan remains “concerning”.
Our common immediate priorities include providing humanitarian assistance, ensuring the formation of a truly inclusive and representative government to combat terrorism and drug trafficking, and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities, he said.
India is deeply involved in the humanitarian assistance provided to the Afghan people, he said.
In line with India’s approach to encourage sports in Afghanistan, the Afghanistan cricket team is in India to participate in the ICC World Cup, Mr Doval said.
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