India, Pakistan entry in SCO set to boost its influence

The entry of India and Pakistan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is viewed with the hope that it will boost bilateral relations.

India, Pakistan entry in SCO set to boost its influence

Monavvar Alam - India

Two traditional rivals of South Asia, India and Pakistan, are now all set to become the full-time members of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2016, as the existing members have agreed to upgrade their status from observer nations. What is its significance for the world and for the SCO itself?

The Beijing-based organization is a Eurasian political, economic and military organization, which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Most Western analysts put the SCO, in line with the BRICS, as a means for Russia and China to cooperate and maintain their supremacy along with peace and stability in Central Asian region. But on broader scale, it poses a real challenge to NATO and the existing Western-dominated global order. With the entry of India and Pakistan in its fold it has definitely expanded its reach controlling more than half of total world population now. 

The SCO officials described the move that will see the two rivals become members of the same security bloc for the first time, as a ‘constructive’ step which would boost the bilateral relations. The Chinese vice Foreign Minister, Cheng Guoping said to the media that”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.”

On the surface such sweet talks look so good but what is intriguing is China’s active support for India’s membership of the SCO even at the risk of displeasing its old friend, Pakistan. In the entire SCO episode the main motive of China still remains a mystery. On the other hand, Russia’s stand is not so confusing. In the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, Russia could never have very good relations with the West.With the SCO, Moscow sees a chance to expand its influence in the Central Asia to counter-balance the US movement in its sphere of influence. Initially, Kremlin was not so eager to move as Russia historically mistrusted China and it saw this organization, too, as a ploy for increasing Chinese hegemony. But over the years, the organization somehow caught its fancy. 

Between India and Pakistan, perhaps it is the later that stands to gain the most from the entry into the SCO.  It should be remembered that earlier this year, Pakistan signed a landmark deal with China for the $46-billion China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a network of roads, railways and pipelines connecting Baluchistan in Pakistan with Kashgar region of China in its westernmost province of Xinjiang.  That was hailed as the important part of China’s ambitious Silk Road plan. In addition to that Pakistan has also strengthened its ties with Russia and concluded a defence deal, which was the first of its kind between the two countries. With the inclusion in the SCO as member, it will have better chances to further boost its relation with the two major powers in the world.

So far as India is concerned, perhaps the main attraction for it is better relations with energy-rich Central Asian countries. India’s quest to play a bigger role in the world affair and to emerge as a powerful factor will much depend much on its economic and technological advancement. That would have an ever increasing need of more and better energy resources. Presently, energy deficit is costing India very heavily and checking its growth and development. Additionally, India will also gain by its presence in the organization as being a full member it will be able to better check and balance the Chinese influence in strategic central Asian region.

Perhaps these motives prompted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to go on eight-day, six-nation tour of Central Asia and Russia, prior to the BRICS and SCO summit in Ufa from July 8 to 10. While meeting with the Eurasian leaders and speaking at the sidelines of BRICS-SCO summit, Modi said, “Eurasia is filled with great energy and dynamism. We have everything to build a future of shared prosperity in Eurasia.” He said the Eurasian region had the potential to become a leading economic corridor and trade route of the world.

As such during the recent summit there have been many discussions about the geo-political nature of the SCO. Iranian writer, Hamid Golpira, perhaps summed in the best way: "According to Zbigniew Brzezinski's theory, control of the Eurasian landmass is the key to global domination and control of Central Asia is the key to control of the Eurasian landmass....Russia and China have been paying attention to Brzezinski's theory, since they formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001, ostensibly to curb extremism in the region and enhance border security, but most probably with the real objective of counterbalancing the activities of the United States and NATO in Central Asia". That is indeed the crux of the motive behind the central play of the organization and explains the growing enthusiasm of the traditional rivals in this body filled with multi-dimensional contradictions.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, while speaking about the role of the SCO, expressed his doubts that the United States is maneuvering "to preserve its status as the world's sole superpower and will not allow any country the chance to pose a challenge to it. If we gather the bits and pieces of the statements of the leaders of the SCO, a clear line emerges and one can understand the whole idea – to check the US and Western Europe’s monopoly in the World’s economy and finance and banking sector and also to challenge its military prowess.

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed it even more clearly: “SCO members have created a new model of international relations — partnership instead of alliance.” That is in line with Xi’s “One Belt, One Road” vision for increased connectivity through continental and maritime Asia. In its search for the outward reach, the SCO has already established relations with a number of key organizations in the world such as, the European Union, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and also with the United Nations, where it is an observer in the General Assembly.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in his special style put it more blatantly and said, “"We now clearly see the defectiveness of the monopoly in world finance and the policy of economic selfishness. To solve the current problem Russia will take part in changing the global financial structure so that it will be able to guarantee stability and prosperity in the world and to ensure progress.”

Hence, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is all about growing ambition and manifests the restlessness of this part of the world against the unipolar world order and excessive influence of the west in the world affairs. With the entry of India and Pakistan, the SCO will now definitely pose a serious challenge to the existing world order.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 14 Temmuz 2015, 13:32