The writer is an
analyst and the
President of All
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders deliberated on important global and regional issues, including climate change, food security energy security, and sustainable supply chains. They also approved agreements and documents that would chart the future direction of cooperation among SCO member states. The SCO is a major trans-regional organization spanning South and Central Asia. Despite the Russia-Ukraine war entering seven months and Pakistan facing one of its worst floods, leaders of both countries were seen at the SCO Summit 2022, due to its great importance. President Putin told Prime Minister Shehbaz that gas supplies to Pakistan were possible, and that part of the necessary infrastructure was already in place. Whereas, Uzbekistan and China signed agreements worth a total of $15 billion in trade, investment, and financial and technical cooperation. Iran has signed a Memorandum of Obligations to become a permanent member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a central Asian security body, the Iranian foreign minister said. By signing the document for full membership of the SCO, now Iran has entered a new stage of various economic, commercial, transit and energy cooperation. Iran also proposed to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to create a single currency for financial-trade exchanges between member countries. Founded in 2001, the SCO upholds the values and principles enshrined in the “Shanghai Spirit” that include mutual trust, mutual benefit, and pursuit of common development. Collectively, the SCO member states represent nearly half of the world’s population and a quarter of global economic output. SCO’s agenda of promoting peace and stability, and seeking enhanced linkages in infrastructure, economic, trade, and cultural spheres, is aligned with Pakistan’s own vision for enhancing economic connectivity as well as peace and stability in the region. Before the addition of India and Pakistan in 2017, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) consisted of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The now eight-member SCO also has four observer states, including Afghanistan, and six dialogue partners, including Sri Lanka. Together, they constitute much of Asia’s geography, with a population of over 3.2 billion people. The foundational purpose of SCO as the largest intergovernmental organization in the world is to strengthen mutual trust and promote good neighborly relations among its member-states. This is to be achieved through gradual but consistent efforts by the SCO member-states to engage in multifaceted cooperation to advance their collective, common interest in the sustainable human and protective security of the SCO space. Parallel to this, the SCO seeks to establish a more democratic and rational world order. The SCO is the successor to the Shanghai Five, a mutual security agreement formed in 1996. It was the era of unrest in central Asia, and separatist and extremist movement was a common threat to the whole region. With this background, the purpose of “The Shanghai Five” was to stabilize the region through mutual cooperation and joint efforts.The SCO has established relations with the United Nations in 2004 as an observer in the General Assembly, Commonwealth of Independent States in 2005, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2005, the Collective Security Treaty Organization in 2007, the Economic Cooperation Organization in 2007, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2011, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in 2014, and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in 2015.
Indian tilt toward the US, as a Major Defense Partner and Strategic Alliance, member of Quade, and close ties with Japan, and Australia, are creating doubts about Indian sincerity with SCO. On one hand, India is a member of SCO, where Russia and China are major countries, on the other hand, close ties with America, Japan, and Australia, who are rivals to China and Russia is a conflicting phenomenon.
In terms of geographic scope and population, it is the world’s largest regional organization, covering approximately 60% of the area of Eurasia, 40% of the world population, and more than 30% of the global GDP. With current tense geopolitics, especially unrest in Ukraine, the US launched the cold war against China, the tension in the South China Sea, Middle-east, Iran, etc., the importance of SCO has been enhanced and gained momentum. With the aggressive policies launched by the US, many countries are scared to be the next target of American ambitions. More nations are willing to join SCO, as a refuge and shelter against American aggression. The priorities and tasks of the recent SCO include efforts to raise the potential and authority of the organization, ensure peace and stability in the region, reduce poverty, and ensure food security. Furthermore, SCO urged putting together a plan for the development of intraregional trade, which will include measures to eliminate trade barriers, align technical regulations and digitalize customs procedures. The President of Uzbekistan initiated 45 important proposals in the SCO summits which have further enhanced the effectiveness of cooperation in political, trade, economic, transport and logistics, innovation, and other areas. The SCO 2022 has great significance for all the countries, especially Russia to win diplomatic and political support against the West sanctions, NATO eastward expansion, and, of course, the Russia-Ukraine conflict. All the Central Asian countries desire to further strengthen the scope, utility, potential, functionality, and importance of China’s C+C5 formation and success of the BRI in the region especially after political turmoil in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Interestingly, the countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, all hope to join the SCO showing its global recognition being a connecting hub of socio-economic prosperity and greater regional connectivity. The core concept of the SCO is the Shanghai Spirit, which proposes a set of new concepts, new models, and new norms of dialogue, diplomacy, and development through positive, productive, and participatory holistic approaches with equal socio-economic rights, promotion of multiculturalism, shared prosperity, community development and last but not the least, the formation of new global order based on respect of sovereignty and dignity of the humans and humanity. The SCO carries spirits of no alliance, no confrontation, and no targeting of any third party has won the hearts of many countries. Moreover, having aims of achieving desired goals of socio-economic prosperity and economic sustainability through befitting politics, security, economy, and humanities makes it superior to any other international forum or organization.
Since becoming a full member of SCO in 2017, Pakistan has been actively contributing toward advancing the Organization’s core objectives through its participation in various SCO mechanisms. Pakistan is a very active member of the SCO and plays a vital role in connecting Central Asia, East Asia, China, Russia, and Afghanistan to the Rest of the world through its newly developing seaport of Gwadar. Gwadar is specially designed to cater to the land lock nations and regional countries to link with Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Pakistan is truly serving as a bridge in the Eurasia region. Its location is vital for international trade and can reshape and change the pattern of global trade in the years to come. For Pakistan, this Summit was very important, as it was passing through a critical era, was facing multiple challenges, the most immediate being fighting against the unprecedented flood, which hit the country adversely, the economic crisis, political challenges, etc. PM Shabaz Sharif had an opportunity to interact with the head of state of the member countries. He had bilateral meetings with Chinese and Russian Presidents on the sidelines of the SCO summit. Pakistan’s assured full support in the fulfillment of the purposes and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and its strong commitment to the principles of the SCO Charter and the “Shanghai Spirit.” In the case of Pakistan, it seeks financial assistance and humanitarian assistance to overcome widespread destruction of the recent floods and clubbing of CPEC with BRI. But, now it’s time that despite the need for financial assistance, Pakistan should focus on and highlight the current global challenges manifest in the high fuel and food prices and the resultant food insecurity as well as economic and financial difficulties for a large number of countries, including SCO members. Pakistan must emphasize that the core purpose of the organization remained the growth and prosperity of the SCO region and how well the SCO leaders respond to the aspirations and ambitions of their people to have better standards of living. We must underline Pakistan’s priorities and national development goals as well as important areas of interest within the SCO framework of cooperation, including trade and economy; connectivity and transport; poverty alleviation; energy; agriculture and food security; climate change; security; information technology; digitalization; and cultural and people-to-people linkages. There is a need for developing appropriate funding mechanisms to promote intra-SCO trade as well as development initiatives. Stressing the enhancement of transport and communication links, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) could serve as a useful model in its facilitation. Pakistan should also share its perspective on a number of specific regional and global security issues as well as SCO’s role in promoting stability in the region and beyond. In this context, the work of SCO-RATS where Pakistan, together with other member states, was also playing an active role in countering common security challenges. Peace and stability in the region are also outlined on the agenda for the upcoming SCO summit. This gives Pakistan and India a chance to further the anti-terrorist program in the region through mutual partnerships in the (RATS- SCO). SCO Summit also provides a platform to discuss tech regulations and digitalization among member countries. It is particularly important for Pakistan at this time as recently 265 Indian websites have been reported that are operational in over 65 countries creating anti-Pakistan propaganda. Already the reports of EU DisInfo Lab and the Indian utility of Pegasus spyware have raised concerns regarding the 5th generation warfare against Pakistan. The reports of the Indian BJP blocking Pakistani websites and Radio Pakistan broadcasts in India further aggravates the situation simmering tensions between the two neighbors. Indian tilt toward the US, as a Major Defense Partner and Strategic Alliance, member of Quade, and close ties with Japan, and Australia, are creating doubts about Indian sincerity with SCO. On one hand, India is a member of SCO, where Russia and China are major countries, on the other hand, close ties with America, Japan, and Australia, who are rivals to China and Russia is a conflicting phenomenon. Let the member states decide the future course with India. However, SCO can prove to be a platform for mitigating the issues by addressing both sides of the border, neutrally. One thing is clear if Pakistan and India want to work out their differences, which they should do for the greater good, SCO is a promising platform at present. It can only be hoped that both countries rise above hot-button politics and get involved in purposeful policy-making that fosters nothing but peace and growth in the region.
It is need of the hour that SCO member countries should pursue green energies, human capital development, greater regional connectivity through liberalized economies and incentivized trading systems, infrastructural development, artificial intelligence technologies, swapping of national currencies, and integration of banking & financial systems for the further consolidation and strategic expansion of the SCO. So SCO 2022 summit has great significance for all the member countries, and there is an urgent need to further strengthen multilateral cooperation against the looming threats of climate change, food & energy crisis, poverty, the emergence of numerous vicious viruses, instability in global supply chains, and socio-economic exploitation.