‘India, Pak entry into SCO may help contain militancy’

Beijing: Chinese officials have said that entry of India and Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation will help to fight militancy in the region and stabilise Afghanistan and may even reduce Indo-Pak tensions.

“India and Pakistan’s admission to the SCO will play an important role in the SCO’s development. It will play a constructive role in pushing for the improvement of their bilateral relations,” Vice Chinese Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping told media here.

Till now India along with Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan had the observer status in the organisation which mainly focused on the anti-terrorism cooperation among the member states.

To pave the way for admission of India and Pakistan, SCO members approved two key documents regarding the procedure for granting membership and the obligations of states applying for it its September’s leaders’ summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

President Xi Jinping will attend the two-day 15th meeting of the Council of SCO Heads of State at Ufa in Russia, starting from July 9 along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif. Xi is due to have bilateral meetings with both of them on its sidelines.

This is the first time India will be represented at the Prime Ministerial level at the SCO summit.

As India and Pakistan makes their way into SCO, Chinese official hope that anti-militancy operations in the region will get a boost and help to stabilise situation in Afghanistan, where China is taking active interest.

Besides concerns of infiltration of militants into its volatile Muslim-majority Xinjiang province bordering Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) and Afghanistan, China in recent months has stepped up its engagement in Afghanistan trying to arrange a truce between Afghan government and Taliban.

The SCO mainly a security related grouping has its headquarters in Beijing and built a Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure (RCTS) in Tashkent to promote anti-terrorism cooperation among member states. The RCTS conducts annual anti-terrorism exercises.

Yang Cheng, deputy director of the Centre for Russian Studies at East China Normal University in Shanghai, told state-run China Daily that the expansion will increase the SCO’s global influence and status, since India and Pakistan are major South Asian nuclear powers.

In addition, the SCO “possibly will see its role boosted in resolving the Afghanistan issue”.

China’s ambassador to Russia Li Hui said that the SCO is expected to further boost security cooperation to guard against infiltration of the region by extremists.

There are also reservations over the India, Pakistan contribution to the grouping considering the differences between them virtually on all issues including militancy.
But Chinese officials say that their entry into the SCO which is largely influenced by China may have sobering affect in ironing out the differences and contradictions.

Yang said the SCO “will serve as a lever to help reduce contradictions between India and Pakistan” when it comes to jointly fighting terrorism. (PTI)