Pakistan hopes from the Shanghai cooperation organization summit

On 8-9th June the heads of state in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will gather in Qingdao to participate in the SCO summit. This time the meeting will be in Qingdao, previously these meetings were held in Beijing and Shanghai. The SCO was founded in 2001 by the coalition of China, Russia, and Central Asian countries.

After nearly two decades, the organization now consist of eight full members (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, India, and Pakistan), four observers (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia), along with six dialogue partners (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey).

The SCO is a joint organization of equal and diverse sovereign members, but China has been the driving force in its evolution, making the Qingdao summit an important moment to reflect on the organization’s course, achievements, and durable challenges. While the road and belt initiative as part of the SCO announced after the last summit held in Kazakhstan.

In the last Summit of SCO, India and Pakistan were formally admitted into its ranks in Astana, Kazakhstan. In addition, With India and Pakistan officially attaining full membership of the organization, the total population of the SCO countries will be almost 3.5 billion, which almost accounts for half of the world, and the combined GDP is estimated to be more than 25% of the global GDP. SCO now stretches from the East to Central Asia to South Asia, which is geographically significant.

Moreover, this meeting is of great importance to both India and Pakistan. The initial objective of SCO’s was security, but the cooperation has now expanded to the economic field. The participation of the two South Asian states would even more rapid increase cooperation in natural resources and infrastructure development, and encourage trade and investment.

However, it is the fact that the SCO is plausible for accepting both India and Pakistan as members, both are opponent states. India, with the potential of human power and the economic growth, will add immensely to the SCO’s influence. As for Pakistan, the geopolitical importance of the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by making a fast trade in the short period of time with the world. In this regard, the huge investment from China would prove to be the real game changer in the whole region. This summit could bring the two contender countries (India and Pakistan) on one page.

Pakistan looked forward to becoming the full member of the SCO, since the General Musharaf era. Pakistan has been the observer member, since 2002, when it was given this status along with India & Iran. It has been confirmed that in the summit on 8-9 June, President of Pakistan Mamnon Hussian would participate. Being a student of media, I wonder that Pakistan is a full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, how much is it significant for Pakistan & how can Pakistan get maximum benefit from the SCO membership?

I asked myself the above question, to answer it. I thought of the current issues and relate them to the SCO. Even the ordinary public knows the real issues in Pakistan; the first and far most is Energy Crisis, to count a few more, includes India-Pakistan disputes, peace in the region to specify peace in Afghanistan, the Gas pipeline projects between the neighboring countries and access to the Central Asian markets. Energy, peace, and trade are the three essential elements which would bring development in short period of time.

The eminence of Shanghai Cooperation Organization is that it is a unique platform which includes large energy producers like Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Iran. A full membership will help Pakistan to establish close relations with the “SCO Energy Club” to sort out the Energy crisis.

Peace in the region especially in Afghanistan is of great importance. In this regard Pakistan, China, and Russia are already holding talks for finding ways to bring peace in Afghanistan. Being part of SCO Pakistan should push to prioritize this issue because peace in Afghanistan is the key to development in the region. Pakistan would collaborate with other member states to counter the instability in the region which is in the best interest of Pakistan.

This summit will provide both countries (India and Pakistan) a platform to sit together and work out the paused projects of Gas pipeline between them. The Gas projects are vital for both, which includes the IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) and TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India). Both projects are long stuck due to Pakistan and India weak bilateral ties.

Pakistan economical development urges to seek out trade routes to the central Asian states, although Pakistan has many bilateral agreements with the central Asian states, SCO membership will add more opportunities to further strengthen the relations and extend trade agreements with other regional countries. Pakistan is also a member of The Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) that paved the way for Pakistan to link its Gwadar & Karachi ports to landlocked Central Asian states but Pakistan has not made the excellent use of this membership to the fullest. But now Pakistan can use both CPEC and CAREC to make Gwadar International sea trade hub under the CPEC.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization can also bring Pakistan and India closer to help them solve the longstanding issues, including Kashmir, Siachen, Water dispute, Violation of Line of control and so on. At the moment, SCO summit would force both the countries to sit under one roof, eventually could help to break the deadlock between them. Furthermore, it will provide both countries armies the opportunity to do joint military exercise. In addition trade between the two countries can be extended through this platform.

To conclude, SCO provides all member states an opportunity to work together and increase bilateral & multilateral trade as well as defense relations for the development of the region. If SCO project keeps succeeding, it can change the lives of 45% population of the world, which would be a great mark in the development of the world.

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