Pivot to Asia and SCO

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - Mehr Is­pa­hani Email: mis­pa­hani22@gmail.com

SHANG­HAI Co­op­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion (SCO) has been a game chang­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion which was estab­lished in 2001 in Shang­hai. Some of peo­ple and an­a­lysts feel that the pur­pose of SCO was to counter bal­ance NATO, coun­ter­bal­anc­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties of Nato in Cen­tral Asia and the US. The Bei­jing­based SCO cur­rently has China, Rus­sia, Kaza­khstan, Kyr­gyzs­tan, Uzbek­istan and Ta­jik­istan as mem­bers. SCO is an emerg­ing pow­er­house im­pos­ing it­self with grav­i­ta­tional pull. Within a decade, SCO seems to be pro­gress­ing to gen­er­ate fo­cus and close fol­low-up in var­i­ous cir­cles.

The geo-strate­gic po­ten­tial of SCO can be hardly ig­nored. It marks the largest re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tion in terms of both land mass and pop­u­la­tion. Sino-Rus­sian re­la­tion­ship has steadily sta­bilised in the new cen­tury and has grown much closer, bound by their mu­tual dis­trust of U.S. hege­mony and their per­ceived need to pro­mote a mul­ti­po­lar world. China in par­tic­u­lar sees SCO as an im­por­tant tool for this aim and ‘has an in­ter­est in show­ing that it can build an in­ter­na­tional bloc in­de­pen­dent of the West and or­gan­ised on non-Western prin­ci­ples with new se­cu­rity con­cept and new model of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion.

The cur­rent dy­nam­ics of the USChina –Ja­pan tri­an­gle will con­tinue to haunt the re­gion. Pak­istan, while still a de­vel­op­ing coun­try, is a strong mar­ket in both en­ergy and de­fence sec­tor, there­fore makes it one of the most vi­tal mar­kets for Rus­sia. Al­though China’s ma­jor se­cu­rity in­ter­ests do not al­ways co­in­cide with that of Rus­sia, Cen­tral Asia may be an ex­cep­tion as both coun­tries are con­cerned with sta­bil­ity in Afghanistan and are in­ter­ested in han­dling re­gional se­cu­rity. In ad­di­tion, en­ergy se­cu­rity is an is­sue where China’s eco­nomic in­ter­est and Rus­sia’s mil­i­tary in­ter­est converge within the SCO.

In­dia and Pak­istan have much to gain and lit­tle to lose from as­sum­ing full mem­ber­ship in the SCO, On the se­cu­rity side, both coun­tries hope to pur­sue their in­ter­ests in Afghanistan and Cen­tral Asia. SCO “might be able to play a fa­cil­i­tat­ing role in deal­ing with the Kash­mir dis­pute with In­dia, The ex­pan­sion of the SCO will help China ful­fil its eco­nomic as­pi­ra­tions in both Cen­tral and South Asia though Rus­sia fears that the ex­pan­sion of the SCO could vault China into the driver’s seat in Cen­tral and South Asia. SCO is ex­pand­ing its port­fo­lio be­yond bor­der dis­putes and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion to in­clude a wide range of eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal, and cul­tural is­sues. Adding In­dia and Pak­istan is an es­sen­tial as­pect of such an ef­fort, For China, an ex­panded SCO ad­vances both se­cu­rity and eco­nomic in­ter­ests.

The ad­di­tion of nu­clear states In­dia and Pak­istan to the SCO will not only change the po­lit­i­cal map but will also in­flu­ence the bal­ance of power in the world sys­tem of po­lit­i­cal af­fairs. Cur­rent geopo­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties tell us that a world is turn­ing into mul­ti­po­lar sys­tem from a unipo­lar one. Two blocs will be formed of re­gional al­liances, Rus­sia-China-Pak­istan ‘Axis’, of course we are aware of Pak­istan – China all weather re­la­tion­ship but Rus­sia who has been a time tested friend of In­dia get­ting close to Pak­istan has raised se­ri­ous con­cerns in In­dia. Rus­sia and China are both mem­bers of sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions, in which they can shape global af­fairs by co­or­di­nat­ing ac­tions and strate­gies.

More im­por­tant is that China’s grand strat­egy ba­si­cally aims to cre­ate al­ter­na­tives to each sin­gle in­sti­tu­tion, or­gan­i­sa­tion or struc­ture of the so-called de­vel­oped world in the long run, and Rus­sia plays a cen­tral role too. China has al­ways been a great sup­port against its ri­val In­dia in term of mil­i­tary and eco­nom­i­cally. — The writer is free­lance colum­nist, based in Pe­shawar.

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