New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday expressed concerns over the situation in Afghanistan and asserted that "growing radicalisation" is the biggest threat to global peace as he virtually addressed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Tajikistan's Dushanbe.

Asking SCO members to develop a shared template to fight extremism, PM Modi said fight against radicalisation is not only important for regional security and trust, but also to ensure the bright future of youth.

"The biggest challenges in this area are related to-peace, security and trust deficit and root cause of these problems is increasing radicalisation. Recent developments in Afghanistan have made this challenge clear," news agency ANI quoted PM Modi as saying.

"We must encourage our talented youngsters towards science and rational thinking. We can bring our startups and entrepreneurs together to make the innovative spirit towards making India a stakeholder in an emerging technology," he added.

The Prime Minister, who also celebrated his 71st birthday on Friday, further said that India is committed to increasing its connectivity with Central Asia, adding that New Delhi believes "landlocked Central Asian countries can benefit immensely by connecting with India's vast market".

"Any connectivity initiative cannot be one-way. To ensure mutual trust, connectivity projects should be consultative, transparent and participatory. There should be respect for the territorial integrity of all countries," PM Modi was quoted as saying by ANI.

As the SCO celebrated its 20th anniversary, PM Modi also welcomed Iran as its new member country. He also welcomed the three new dialogue partners - Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar. "20th anniversary of SCO is right time to think about future of SCO," PM Modi said.

The SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, is an eight-member economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017. It was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

India has shown keen interest in deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence. It was made an observer at the SCO in 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma