Pak­istan be­comes full mem­ber of SCO

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIAL & COMMENTS - Mo­ham­mad Jamil Email: mjamil1938@hot­

mak­ing Pak­istan full mem­ber of the SCO. The Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion (SCO) was cre­ated on June 15, 2001 in Shang­hai (China) by Kaza­khstan, China, Kyr­gyzs­tan, Rus­sia, Ta­jik­istan and Uzbek­istan. In 2006, Pak­istan with ob­server sta­tus in se­cu­rity group­ing had ap­plied for its full mem­ber­ship, and now it is full mem­ber of the SCO.

Ac­cord­ing to the SCO Char­ter, the main goals of the SCO are strength­en­ing mu­tual con­fi­dence and good-neigh­borly re­la­tions among mem­ber coun­tries. Chi­nese Vice For­eign Min­is­ter Cheng Guop­ing in a brief­ing to re­porters af­ter July 2015 sum­mit had said: “In­dia and Pak­istan’s ad­mis­sion to the SCO will play an im­por­tant role in the SCO’s de­vel­op­ment and a con­struc­tive role in the im­prove­ment of their bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.” SCO’s mem­ber states take up 60 per­cent of Eura­sia and a quar­ter of the world’s pop­u­la­tion. It is the suc­ces­sor to the “Shang­hai Five” - China, Rus­sia, Kaza­khstan, Kyr­gyzs­tan and Ta­jik­istan. Set up in 1996 as the Shang­hai Five, its ob­jec­tive was to re­solve border dis­putes and ter­ror­ism that emerged in the wake of the war against the Sovi­ets in Afghanistan. China had promised to get Pak­istan into SCO as a per­ma­nent mem­ber, and Cen­tral Asian states and Rus­sia were also sup­port­ive of the move.

By be­com­ing per­ma­nent mem­ber, Pak­istan would be able to play more ef­fec­tive role in the de­vel­op­ment of trade and peace in the re­gion, as it would have con­tin­u­ous in­ter­ac­tion with the mem­ber coun­tries. In last year’s sum­mit, for­mal meet­ing be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif and In­dian Prime Min­is­ter af­ter a long hia­tus was a wel­come move. Both lead­ers agreed that way for­ward for last­ing peace is to ad­dress out­stand­ing is­sues in­clud­ing Kash­mir, Si­achen, and Sir Creek, though de­tails had not been given in joint state­ment. Meet­ing be­tween them had been wel­comed by the US and other coun­tries of the world. Of course, SCO fo­rum pro­vided plat­form whereby both coun­tries agreed to talk. Com­ing back to SCO, it has to be men­tioned that af­ter 14 years af­ter it was es­tab­lished, the SCO is grad­u­at­ing be­yond its orig­i­nal man­date of deal­ing with se­cu­rity threats.

There are four fac­tors that cre­ate an en­abling con­text for SCO’s growth as a pow­er­ful Asian or­gan­i­sa­tion. For one, it will fur­ther strengthen the Sino-Rus­sian ties, which will give spe­cial mo­men­tum to the SCO. China and Rus­sia be­lieve that they should strengthen sup­port and strate­gic co­or­di­na­tion when the in­ter­na­tional and re­gional sit­u­a­tion is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly com­plex. The vol­ume of bi­lat­eral trade has been grow­ing at a phe­nom­e­nal rate, and has been con­sis­tent for years. Two, what gives spe­cial mo­men­tum to the SCO’s growth is the en­ergy that po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment of the top lead­er­ships of China and Rus­sia bring to the or­ga­ni­za­tion. The fact re­mains that SCO has been driven by th­ese two ma­jor pow­ers. Thirdly, Rus­sia too is emerg­ing as a ma­jor eco­nomic power like China. Four, they want to see that the US does not have mil­i­tary pres­ence in the Cen­tral Asian re­publics.

Of course, the US would not be happy to see an emerg­ing SCO to trans­form the re­gion, as the lat­ter’s ob­jec­tive is to counter the US in­flu­ence in the re­gion. On Satur­day, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin was in China. Both he and his Chi­nese coun­ter­part Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping promised ever-closer co­op­er­a­tion, as the two coun­tries deepen ties in the face of grow­ing ten­sions with the West. In what was Putin’s fourth trip to China since Xi Jin­ping be­came Pres­i­dent in 2013, the two men stressed their shared out­look on trade, in­vest­ment and geopo­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests. “Rus­sia and China stick to points of view which are very close to each other or are al­most the same in the in­ter­na­tional arena,” Putin said. Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping em­pha­sised that this year marked the 15th an­niver­sary of the Chi­naRus­sia treaty of friend­ship and hoped the two coun­tries might re­main friends for­ever.

Xi said: “Pres­i­dent Putin and I equally agree that when faced with in­ter­na­tional cir­cum­stances that are in­creas­ingly com­plex and chang­ing, we must per­sist even harder in main­tain­ing the spirit of the Sino-Rus­sian strate­gic part­ner­ship and co­op­er­a­tion.” The two sides signed over 30 co­op­er­a­tion deals in ar­eas such as trade, in­fra­struc­ture, for­eign af­fairs, tech­nol­ogy and innovation, agri­cul­ture, fi­nance, en­ergy, sports and the me­dia. No­tably, Rus­sian oil gi­ant Ros­neft inked a deal with China Petro­chem­i­cal Cor­po­ra­tion (Sinopec) on de­vel­op­ing a gas pro­cess­ing and petro­chem­i­cal plant in East Siberia, as China seeks en­ergy to boost its eco­nomic growth.

Th­ese de­vel­op­ments show that that the world is on the verge of be­com­ing bipo­lar or mul­ti­po­lar world, and both pow­ers are poised to counter US machi­na­tions in East­ern Euro­pean coun­tries - for­mer al­lied states of for­mer USSR, and also its sup­port to the states that are op­posed to China’s claim of South China Sea. —The writer is a se­nior jour­nal­ist based in Lahore.

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