Rama Krishna Sangem
Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is coming to India to participate in SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) meeting in Goa on May 4, 5. This is the time for India to take out RATS to deal with this week’s terror attack on an army truck that claimed the lives of 5 jawans in Poonch sector of Jammu. India is in a state of shock over the attack, in which Pak based terrorists were found to be involved.
RATS is Regional Anti-Terror Structure mechanism under SCO. As per the SCO charter, the member countries – eight at present – and 10 other invitees and guests – should not indulge in any form of terror attacks against each other. Basically, SCO was formed late 1990s, then it was just called Shanghai Five, to deal with terror activity after split of erstwhile Soviet Union into many central Asian republics. In 2001, it became SCO.
34 year old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, has deeper past with India. This Oxford educated youngster, tipped to become Pakistan PM or President one day in future is grand son of former Pak PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and son of former Pak PM Benazir Bhutto and former Pak President Asi Ali Zardhari. It wa Zulfikar Ali who signed Shimla agreement with late India PM Indira Gandhi after Bangladesh war in 1971.
India along with Pakistan joined SCO in 2007 after Russia persuaded it to come on board, mainly to ensure regional cooperation in multiple fields. Now, SCO has eight members – India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Four more countries are of observer status – Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia. Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka are with partner status.
Security Umbrella for Central, South Asia
Though SCO has a wide range of objectives, from financial cooperation to cultural exchange, the main purpose is to check terror outfits using one of their soil to attack the other. If we see the geographical coverage of SCO, whole of central Asia and most of South Asia, except Bangladesh is included in it. Theoretically, this should ensure any form of terror activity is just impossible in this region.
But, there are differences on what is terror and who is behind it in some cases like Kashmir. Pakistan, even led by present PM Shebaz Sherif argues it has nothing to do with terror groups in Jammu and Kashmir. Bilawal Bhutto too was vocal when Article 370 was abolished in August 2019. They say that the locals alone are responsible for any acts of violence in Kashmir. Of course Pakistan army never officially claims its role in Kashmir violence.
Now that our army intelligence has found enough evidence to nail the role of terror outfits aided by Pakistan’s ISI. The Goa meeting of SCO foreign ministers meeting is the best forum to retaliate Pakistan’s proxy terror attack on Kashmir. Russia which waged a war in the name of containing terror elements in region and China cannot be silent to Poonch terror attack. Our Foreign Minister S Jaishankar is best suited to use RTAS to stop terror menace in Kashmir.