India and Pakistan becames full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
India’s membership was strongly pushed by Russia while Pakistan’s entry into the grouping was backed by China.
India, one of the largest energy consuming countries in the world, is also likely to get greater access to major gas and oil exploration projects in Central Asia as many of the SCO countries have huge reserves of oil and natural gas.
What is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)?
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation which was founded in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The SCO’s objectives arecentred around cooperation between member nations on security-related concerns, military cooperation, intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism.
It is mainly aimed at military cooperation between the members and involves intelligence-sharing, counter-terrorism operations in Central Asia.
The presence of China and India, the world’s most populous countries, would make the SCO the organisation with the largest population coverage.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter was signed during the 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 SCO’s main goals
Strengthening mutual trust and neighborliness 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.
Who are the permanent members of the SCO?
The SCO was founded by leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan in 2001. Uzbegistan joined the group later.
India and Pakistan signed the memoranda for becoming a permanent member of the SCO in 2016.
The inclusion of India and Pakistan into the SCO would mean the addition of another 1.45 billion people which would make the grouping cover around 40 per cent of the global population.
What does this mean for India?
Cooperation on counter-terrorism is expected to emerge as a major point of India’s exchange with SCO.
India is expected to have a greater say in pushing for effective action in combating terrorism and on issues relating to security when it becomes a full member of the SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO.
India, one of the largest energy consuming countries in the world, is also likely to get greater access to major gas and oil exploration projects in Central Asia once it becomes part of the SCO.
India’s entry into the China-dominated grouping is seen as a major milestone as it is expected to increase the group’s heft in regional geo-politics and trade negotiations besides giving it a pan-Asian hue.
Experts say India’s inclusion may even bring down Beijing’s overarching influence over the SCO, reports PTI.
What is Pakistan’s role in the Astana summit?
Pakistan will also be admitted as a full member of the SCO along with India during the Astana summit.
However, with tension brewing between the two countries, there is no meeting scheduled between Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
Ahead of Mr. Modi’s visit to Astana, the External Affairs Ministry said that India is willing to join hands with Pakistan and China to combat terrorism.
The comment is significant as full membership will require India to coordinate with member countries both on the trade front in the SCO headquarters in Beijing and at the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) based in Tashkent.
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