Sovereignty, regional integrity must be respected: Modi on connectivity

India’s Prime Minister Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Sharif smile before the start of their bilateral meeting in New Delhi

Astana (Kazakhstan) – Against the backdrop of India’s opposition to China’s ambitious ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative and with President Xi Jinping listening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that sovereignty and regional integrity should be respected on issues of connectivity.

On his part Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan, which is part of the OBOR, hailed the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) as transforming the global economic landscape.

“For connectivity initiatives and for success and approval of the projects, sovereignty and regional integrity must be respected while inclusivity and sustainability are essential,” Modi said while addressing the SCO summit of which India became a member on Friday.

“Connectivity with SCO countries is our priority. We fully support it. And we want connectivity should pave the way for cooperation and trust among our future generations and society,” Modi said.

He said India joining the International North-South Transport Corridor and the Chabahar port agreement and the decision to join the Ashgabat Agreement (a multimodal transport agreement) will bring the country closer to these places.

In his speech, Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif said the SCO’s expansion was taking place at an “opportune time as a Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) transforms the global economic landscape”.

“And in Pakistan we are diligently implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is the flagship of the BRI. What is more, these mega projects will benefit the entire SCO community.”

India has strongly objected to the OBOR project on the ground that the CPEC infringes on India’s sovereignty as it passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Sharif said that Pakistan was attending this summit with the confidence that it would be able to change the world for better.

“We will do so by harnessing the SCO’s enormous potential and a proven competency as well as by leveraging strong political will of the nations represented on the SCO. Pakistan stands ready to contribute to this collective endeavour,” he said.

Sharif said Pakistan shares deep historical and cultural ties with SCO members as well as strong economic and strategic linkages.

“SCO’s goals resonate with Pakistan’s national ethos and so do the core values of the Shanghai spirit and SCO’s charter with our own quest for a peaceful neighbourhood. In this context, I welcome the proposal made by the President on the need for good neighbourliness for the next five years among SCO members,” Sharif said.

The Pakistan leader also said that as leaders, they should leave a legacy of peace for future generations not a toxic harvest of conflict and animosity.

“Instead of talking about counterweight and containment, let us create shared space for all,” he said congratulating India on joining the SCO family.



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