SCO meet: No bilaterals between foreign, defence ministers of India, Pakistan

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There will be no bilateral meetings between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman with their Pakistan counterparts at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) ministerial meets to be held in Beijing, official sources said.

Highlights

  • “There will be no meetings with their Pakistan counterparts,” official sources here told PTI, ruling out any planned meetings between the Indian and Pakistani ministers.
  • Swaraj who arrived in Beijing on Saturday will take part in the foreign ministers meeting of the SCO to be held on 24 April. The same day Sitharaman will take part the SCO defence ministers meeting. The meetings, which are part of the preparations for the SCO summit to be held in the Chinese city of Qingdao in June, have become prominent as they are the first such meetings after India and Pakistan were admitted into the eight-member group last year.
  • Both events are to be attended by the respective ministers from Pakistan. A host of issues including that of regional security and counter terrorism are expected to figure in the meetings. Relations between India and Pakistan turned frosty after the Pathankot terror attack in January 2016 and another strike by terrorists on an army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir in September that year.
  • The SCO, in which China and Russia play an influential role, specialises in regional security, counter terrorism and related issues. The organisation consists of China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
  • Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said on Friday that issues related to terrorism will be discussed at the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting. “We believe it is a purpose of the SCO to promote relevant cooperation in that field. Security has been a priority of the SCO since its inception,” she said and defended Pakistan after Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed it as “terror export factory” at an event in London recently.
  • So the upcoming meeting will see participants exchanging views on the relevant issues, along with major international and regional issues, Hua said. While Modi is scheduled to attend the SCO summit, officials say Pakistan is expected to be represented by its President Mamnoon Hussain as its Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had recently attended the Boao Forum for Asia in the Chinese city of Boao.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.
  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter was signed during the St.Petersburg SCO Heads of State meeting in June 2002, and entered into force on 19 September 2003. This is the fundamental statutory document which outlines the organisation’s goals and principles, as well as its structure and core activities.
  • The historical meeting of the Heads of State Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was held on 8-9 June 2017 in Astana. On the meeting the status of a full member of the Organization was granted to the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
  • The SCO’s main goals are as follows: strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.
  • Proceeding from the Shanghai Spirit, the SCO pursues its internal policy based on the principles of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, mutual consultations, respect for cultural diversity, and a desire for common development, while its external policy is conducted in accordance with the principles of non-alignment, non-targeting any third country, and openness.
  • The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO. It meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation. The SCO Heads of Government Council (HGC) meets once a year to discuss the organisation’s multilateral cooperation strategy and priority areas, to resolve current important economic and other cooperation issues, and also to approve the organisation’s annual budget. The SCO’s official languages are Russian and Chinese.
  • In addition to HSC and HGC meetings, there is also a mechanism of meetings at the level of heads of parliament; secretaries of Security Councils; ministers of foreign affairs, defence, emergency relief, economy, transport, culture, education, and healthcare; heads of law enforcement agencies and supreme and arbitration courts; and prosecutors general. The Council of National Coordinators of SCO Member States (CNC) acts as the SCO coordination mechanism.
  • The organisation has two permanent bodies — the SCO Secretariat based in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent. The SCO Secretary-General and the Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO RATS are appointed by the Council of Heads of State for a term of three years. Rashid Alimov (Tajikistan) and Yevgeny Sysoyev (Russia) have held these positions, respectively, since 1 January 2016.

Currently

  • the SCO comprises eight member states, namely the Republic of India, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan;
  • the SCO counts four observer states, namely the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Belarus, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Mongolia;
  • The SCO has six dialogue partners, namely the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the Republic of Turkey, and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Q.1 With respect to Shanghai Cooperation Organization, consider the following statements.

  1. It is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation
  2. On July 2015, the SCO decided to admit India and Pakistan as full members, and they joined as full members in 2017.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: c) both 1 and 2

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