SCO summit and diplomatic agendasm By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

The 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit, also referred to as the Bishkek Summit, took place from June 13 to 14 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It brought to fore several regional conflicts. The SCO comprises eight member states, four observer states, and six dialogue partners. Its member states are China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The presence of premiers of India and Pakistan was expected to result in a heated dialogue. However, the brief meeting did not lead to a public statement on progress.
Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Imran Khan met briefly and exchanged pleasantries. This was in the best interest of both countries. A misunderstood remakr would have created problems. Prime Minister Imran Khan was the centre of attention at the Bishkek Summit when he stood with Vladimir Putin. Imran Khan also exchanged pleasantries with world leaders. However, Prime Minister Modi did not receive the attention he was expecting.
India will closely monitor Pakistan-Russia ties because strong Pakistan-Russia relations might not bode well for India’s hegemony in South Asia
China has, as always, stood by Pakistan’s side. Zhang Hanhui, China’s Vice Foreign Minister, referred to Pakistan while addressing a press conference ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping attending the 19th SCO summit. Zhang Hanhui said, “In every summit, institution building of the SCO will be discussed that would involve economic cooperation and security cooperation particularly on counter-terrorism. Security and development are two major issues of focus for the SCO. The establishment of the SCO is not to target any certain country but the summit of this level will certainly pay attention to major international relation and regional issues.”
Apart from Pakistan and India, the summit was also attended by Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Pakistan’s friendship with China has graduated to a higher level with the initiation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Pakistan has also bolstered its ties with Russia. The leaders of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan discussed how to develop deeper relations with neighboring countries, especially with SCO member states. The Summit was overshadowed by the presence of leaders from China, Russia and Pakistan. The scheduled meeting of Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of the 19th SCO Summit was seen as a diplomatic and political triumph for Pakistan.
Moscow and Islamabad are expected to strengthen their ties, discuss matters of mutual interest, deliberate upon resolving regional conflicts especially touching upon the Afghan peace process. India, in particular, will be closely monitoring Pakistan-Russia ties because a strong Pakistan-Russia relationship might not bode well for India’s hegemony in South Asia. Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed enhancing their bilateral ties and ways to develop strategic communication. According to the SCO secretary general, “the Bishkek summit will make a special contribution to the deepening of multilateral cooperation within the organization.” What kind of multilateral cooperation is being talked about here is yet to be seen.
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