In the Western dominated world order, the Eurasian states have always tried to create a regional organization to maintain a balance of power and their wish has finally achieved fruition in the form of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
The SCO consists of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
At the Ufa summit in 2015, the SCO officially adopted a resolution which started the process of admitting India and Pakistan into the organization. Both countries will finish the procedure of accession to the SCO in the SCO summit on June 8-9 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Their inclusion will extend the geographical range of the SCO and will establish better connectivity between South Asia and Central Asia.
In the last six decades, India and Pakistan have been embroiled in conflicts and disagreements over their shared boundary line.
Due to their massive attention to this historic hostility, both states have become a hub of nontraditional security issues.
The goals of the SCO are to strengthen relations among member states; promote cooperation in political affairs, economics, trade, scientific, technical, cultural and educational spheres as well as in energy, transportation, tourism and environmental protection; safeguard regional peace, security and stability; and create a democratic, equitable international political and economic order.
Their full membership into the SCO will be beneficial for both India and Pakistan.
For India, it would open new opportunities to intensify relations with Eurasian states. India can thus develop strong relations with Eurasia to address shared security concerns, especially in fighting terrorism and containing threats posed by the Taliban and IS.
India could also gain advantage from tapping into the current SCO procedures such as the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure that gives key intelligence and information regarding terrorists and drug traffickers. After becoming a full member, India will formally participate in the annual SCO counter-terror exercises and military drills that would help Indian armed forces better understand operational tactics.
From Pakistan’s perspective, full membership into the SCO could build trade links with many landlocked Central Asian countries. It could also raise socio-economic connectivity between Pakistan and Central Asian states. Moreover, it could open doors for Pakistan to avail itself of a cheap energy supply from Kyrgyzstan.
For the SCO, fastening India and Pakistan will add fresh strength, ensuring greater status and voice to the group.
After their inclusion, the SCO will become one of the largest organizations in the world and will represent about 43 percent of world’s population.
If India and Pakistan really want to avail themselves of the opportunity for full membership in the SCO, they should take a position of peaceful cooperation.
It will also be a great test for China and Russia to make sure that all sides act in accordance with the norms of the SCO. Moreover, all new and existing members should work together and make this organization a comprehensive regional platform.
Apart from the SCO, the Belt and Road initiative (B&R) provides increased potential to reconnect India and Pakistan.
B&R would open new development opportunities for both rival nations provided they engage in peaceful cooperation.
Currently both nations do not have amicable relations with each other. The SCO meeting may provide the breakthrough they need to overcome their traditional obstacles. While joining the SCO will not immediately see an end to their traditional hostility, it will hopefully provide a new platform to gradually resolve their mutual disputes.