Pakistan’s Aspirations From The Upcoming SCO Summit By Muhammad Asif Noor

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s 18th Summit of Heads of States is just around the corner in Qingdao, the host city in China’s Shandong Province, where China will hand over the chairmanship of one of the largest regional grouping to another member country. Before this historic event, several other related meetings of the grouping were held during the year on various aspects.
Quite recently SCO has organised first regional anti-terrorist structure legal experts meeting hosted by Pakistan, for the first time. The meeting was attended by all the representative legal experts from eight member states as well as the SCO-RATS Executive Committee members. This was the first occasion since the inception of the membership of Pakistan that the country hosted such a high-level meeting. Pakistan and India will be participating in the summit as full-fledged members this year with lots of aspirations.
The SCO membership provides an opportunity to Islamabad to enhance its economic, political, strategic and cultural ties not only with Beijing and Moscow but with the Central Asian states as well. Pakistan has always been interested in promoting regional connectivity, following its desire to project itself and its interests within the region. Pakistan had achieved the status of observer in the SCO in 2005, which was meant to enhance its participation in whatever capacity within the largest non-military grouping of the nations in the Asian region. In comparison, Pakistan has acquired more importance than India because of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The project is providing a tremendous opportunity for Pakistan to strengthen its ties with the regional countries. The SCO forum will give Pakistan a seat to the table with Eurasian powers like China and Russia, with whom Pakistan has cultivated relations, especially in the recent years.
Pakistan’s decade-long aspiration for accession to the SCO has been fulfilled. How much Pakistan shall benefit economically from the SCO is, however, uncertain, especially given Pakistan’s already central role within Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative through the CPEC. However, the relationship with Russia and the Central Asian States will improve gradually in terms of economic relations, whereby new structures and protocols within the organisation provide ample assistance to Pakistani business community to get the maximum benefit out of the entire opportunity.
Apart from being the full member, Pakistan brings along the experience to the table in countering terrorism and experience of dealing with the menace including the sacrifices of the precious lives on the way. No one on the table can deny that, except for India, Pakistan’s efforts towards regional peace and stability.
Pakistan has faced the brunt of the terrorism like no other country where, including loss of precious lives, we have also suffered the huge economic and political unrest. However, this does not diminish Pakistan’s resolve to continue to fight the menace with its full force.
The SCO forum will give Pakistan a seat at the table with Eurasian powers like China and Russia, with whom Pakistan has cultivated closer relations in recent years
Pakistan has National Counter Terrorism Policy base on the multidimensional approach towards promotion of peace and prosperity through reforms. The meeting of the expert working group takes place three times every year before every council meeting. This meeting because of its special reason of being organised and hosted by Pakistan was a preliminary planning session before the 33rd session of the Council of SCO-RATS which will be hosted by Kyrgyzstan in October this year.
Member states discussed various proposals for enhancing regional cooperation in countering violent extremism and terrorism. The legal experts also discussed administrative and organisational matters at the multilateral level. Keeping in view, Pakistan’s significant regional presence and participation, it is anticipated Pakistan must adjust itself with the changing dynamics of the regional and global politics with putting its house in order. The world does recognise the efforts made by Pakistan towards reaching the goal of peace and stability, but there still is a long way to go for which there is a strong need for inclusive efforts from all quarters of the social, economic and political spectrum is required. Pakistan and India recently also participated in the joint military exercise in September last year in Russia for the first time in their turbulent historical past, present and anticipated future. However, the SCO forum is providing the opportunity to both countries to begin having interactions on multifaceted levels, hence opening new doors for the peace in the region.
During the upcoming Summit, Pakistan will be having a chance to put forward its case and resolve to fight against the terrorism. This will also be the forum where Pakistan needs to promote its role in the regional peace and stability as the important player, especially the partnership in the regional connectivity projects. The forum will also prove an opportunity to Pakistan for having meetings with all the heads of the states of the member countries. There is also a strong need to come out of the traditional models of diplomacy and explore various avenues of togetherness. Pakistan’s emphasis will also be to promote its role and lobby to gather support for not allowing the forum to be used against the country. The emphasis will be to raise awareness about Pakistan’s contribution towards world peace. It will all depend upon Pakistan that how best it will utilise the forum.
The writer is Director, Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies and Founder Secretary General, Pakistan Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Friendship Forum
Published in Daily Times, May 31st 2018.
Source: https://dailytimes.com.pk/246752/pakistans-aspirations-from-the-upcoming-sco-summit/

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