The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit will be held in the Russian city of Ufa on 9-10 July, overlapping with the BRICS Leaders Summit [Image:]

by Lady Michelle Jennifer Santos

6 July 2015, BEIJING (TSR) –  Nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India will seek full membership to the security bloc led by China and Russia at a summit in Russia later this week, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping told a news briefing on Monday.

“…India and Pakistan’s admission to the SCO will play an important role in the SCO’s development it will play a constructive role in pushing for the improvement of their bilateral relations,” Cheng said.

Cheng was addressing a press briefing in Beijing on Monday.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit will be held in the Russian city of Ufa on 9-10 July.

“As an observer state, Pakistan has been making substantive contribution to regional peace, security and development,” Xinhua quoted the foreign ministry as saying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month at a meeting with foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) that SCO is developing rather successfully, gaining more weight, TASS reported.

“Our organisation is developing quite successfully. Interest in the work of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has been shown by 12 countries, besides today’s members of the organisation,” Putin said.

He said there is an agreement to consider the issue on the admission of India and Pakistan to SCO this July. “Other countries would also like to strengthen our contacts with our organisation and this is logical, because it is gaining more and more weight and more significance,” said the Russian leader.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday left on an eight-day visit to five Central Asian countries as also Russia, aiming to enhance strategic, economic and energy ties besides attending Summits of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

India seeking full membership to SCO is said to be a major highlight of the prime minister’s visit in Russia.

Pakistan holds observer status in SCO and is also seeking a full membership.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) would benefit from Pakistan’s joining the alliance, Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said Wednesday.

“We expect the political decision to start the procedure of Pakistan’s accession will be made at the upcoming SCO summit in Ufa (the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan),” Naryshkin told visiting Pakistani Army Chief Raheel Sharif according to Chinese State news agency, Xinhua.

The SCO and Pakistan will both benefit from such a decision and Moscow supports the interests of Pakistan and the efforts it made to join the bloc, the Interfax news agency quoted Naryshkin as saying.

The Duma speaker added that the two countries share “special and independent values,” while Moscow “unconditionally” supports Islamabad in fighting drug trafficking, terrorism and religious extremism, in particular the Islamic State.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will lead the Pakistani delegation at the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and will also hold important bilateral meetings on the sidelines, the foreign ministry said.
At the invitation of the Russian president, Sharif will also attend the outreach meeting of the leaders of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, SCO members and Turkmenistan.

Sharif, for his part, voiced his confidence that his visit would enhance the interaction and cooperation in all spheres between the two countries.

On Monday, Sharif discussed issues of regional security, bilateral defense cooperation and high-level military exchanges with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Moscow and Islamabad have been strengthening military cooperation in recent years. Last November, Shoigu visited Pakistan and signed a military cooperation agreement with his Pakistani counterpart.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an organisation founded in Shanghai in 2001 with six-nation members comprising China, Russia, and the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. As of now, India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia has observer status. Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka are dialogue partners.

The SCO was originally formed to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighbouring Afghanistan.

Cheng said that the summit, to be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, would also discuss security in Afghanistan.

Beijing says separatist groups in the far western region of Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur minority, are seeking to form their own state called East Turkestan and have links with militants in Central Asia as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

China says that Uighur militants, operating at the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), has also been working with Islamic State.

“It can be said that ETIM certainly has links with the Islamic State, and has participated in relevant terrorist activities. China is paying close attention to this, and will have security cooperation with relevant countries,” Cheng said.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an important regional organisation, and Pakistan can play a more active and constructive role as a full member to achieve goals like fighting extremism and terrorism, stated by Envoys from the SCO member states while addressing the launching Ceremony of Pakistan Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Friendship Forum in March.

“It is the need of the hour that we should work to enhance partnerships while respecting and endorsing diversity,” Principal Secretary to the President of Pakistan Ahmad Farooq said at the forum.

“This is going to be an Asian Century, the regional and world powers couldn’t ignore Pakistan in any kind of framework that places a focus on peace and development within the geographical arena of SCO”, he added.

Russian Federation Envoy to Pakistan H.E Alexey Dedov said at the forum Russia always supported Pakistan for permanent membership status at the SCO so that it could play a more active role in this organisation. He said that Russia, as president of the SCO for the current year, had prepared a comprehensive agenda that included enhancing connectivity to fighting terrorism and extremism through further cooperation to ensure security.

Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong in his remarks was of the view that China has always supported Pakistan for full membership to SCO and is working on to develop a Pakistan-China Economic Corridor –a mega project that would not only support Pakistan but also strengthen regional connectivity. China and Pakistan are working together for the prosperity and development of the region. Pakistan and China enjoy deep-rooted linkages and relationship based on mutual trust and congeniality, which will increase manifold in the near future, he said.



The Summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the important economies across the world, together with leaders and representatives of global investment firms and bankers from the G20, will meet to discuss a future roadmap for trade and investment ties within the BRICS, focus on discussions on enhancing cooperation in economic field, including the possibility of trade in local currency, and commence BRICS bank.

With the BRICS Development Bank already set up, the Summit could look at the possibility of starting credit facility in local currency. The first head of the bank is noted Indian banker K V Kamath.

India and Pakistan will be granted full-fledged membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at its summit this week.


India and Pakistan will meet on the Sidelines

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947, two of them over the divided Muslim-majority region of Kashmir which they both claim in full but rule in part. Pakistan also believes India is supporting separatists in resource-rich Balochistan province, as well as militants fighting the state.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif will meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Ufa, Russia on July 10, said local media Press Trust of India Monday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday left on an eight-day visit to five Central Asian countries as also Russia, aiming to enhance strategic, economic and energy ties besides attending Summits of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

According to local Indian media, a Pakistani official on condition of anonymity said the Sharif-Modi meeting was likely to take place but refused to give details.

Last week, Pakistan had said no formal request was made by either side for a meeting but such interactions often take place on the sidelines of multilateral fora, the report added.

“No side has contacted the other for a meeting so far. However, as you would be aware, in any multilateral setting, meetings among Heads of State and Government is a normal feature,” Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah had said when asked about the possibility of a Sharif-Modi meeting in Russia.

Pakistan and India were involved in a war of words recently with leaders from both sides exchanging sharp comments after Prime Minister Modi’s critical remarks about Pakistan during his Dhaka visit last month and in the wake of India’s military action in Myanmar.

Prime Minister Modi had called up Sharif last month to greet him on the holy month of Ramzan. If the two leaders meet, it would be their first face-to-face interaction since the two leaders shook hands in Kathmandu at the SAARC Summit last year.

Modi had invited Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony in 2013 and it was expected that the two sides will resume the stalled peace dialogue but the relations deteriorated last year with some of the worst clashes taking place at the border.

China and Russia Motivations

Having made fruitful achievements in various fields, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed during Xi’s visit to Moscow in early May to link each other’s economic development initiatives, namely the EEU and the Silk Road Economic Belt initiatives, while the SCO is expected to play a key role in establishing such partnership.

Both China and Russia have invested heavily in the resource-rich region of Central Asia.

As the US and EU step up pressure on Moscow with threats of new rounds of sanctions, Russia is seeking to strengthen ties with allies in the region, predominantly the BRICS and SCO members.

Russia has taken over presidency of the SCO in September 2014. Moscow has vowed to use its presidency of the SCO to advocate for coordinated steps on the economy, financial sector, energy, and food security.

Expansion “will testify to the rest of the world that the SCO is a truly open and equal platform for safeguarding regional peace and development, not an exclusive and ambitious China-led ‘military alliance’ as portrayed by some Western powers,” wrote Xinhua in a commentary.

China’s interest in India and Pakistan has increased since adopting its New Maritime Silk Road strategy and that could be behind its acquiescence to their joining the SCO. Proposed by China last year, adding secure access to the Indian Ocean is valued not just by China but by the Central Asian SCO members as well.

So what will expansion do to the organization? It could strengthen China’s role as a regional security provider. “An expanded SCO will be in a better position to achieve Xi’s vision of becoming the regional security heavyweight,” wrote Shannon Tiezzi in an analysis at The Diplomat. “Despite a tendency to see the SCO as a competitor to NATO, Chinese leaders stress that the SCO is something entirely new. In Dushanbe, Xi announced that ‘SCO members have created a new model of international relations — partnership instead of alliance.’”

It could also, however, dilute the group’s already meager powers. After expansion the SCO “will become even more of a symbolic organization rather than a vehicle for any kind of substantive regional integration or cooperative problem solving,” said Alexander Cooley, a Eurasian politics expert at Barnard College. “But the inclusion of India and Pakistan will take the spotlight away from the China-Russia relationship, and tensions over the organization’s purpose and role, and recast the organization as a more comprehensive regional forum.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here