India, Pakistan joining SCO expands its global influence: Chinese media
New Delhi: The admission of India and Pakistan as members of the China-dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is expected to win the grouping recognition as an international organisation, said a commentary on the website of China’s Global Times on Monday.
With its members now accounting for the majority of the world’s territory and population and offering huge potential for development, the entry of India and Pakistan is likely to help the SCO “expand its influence in international and regional affairs in various fields, especially in security, geopolitics and the economy”, said the commentary by two Chinese experts.
India and Pakistan became members of the SCO on Friday with the formal induction of the two countries at the group’s meeting in the Kazakh capital, Astana.
SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India, Iran and Pakistan were admitted as observers at the 2005 Astana summit.
The SCO summit in Tashkent in June 2010 lifted a moratorium on new membership, paving the way for the expansion of the grouping that has been at times seen as a counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato).
“If India and Pakistan can focus more on peace and economic development, all countries in the organization, including China and Russia, will benefit from it. The SCO has the potential to mediate between India and Pakistan, but only the word ‘potential’ can be used in the short-term,” said Chen Xiaochen, director of the international studies department at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.
“There is a deep divide between India and Pakistan, so it will be difficult for the SCO to bridge this in the short-term,” Chen said, adding the SCO “will by no means become a channel for China to intervene in any conflict between India and Pakistan”.
India has always maintained that it will sort out its disputes with Pakistan bilaterally though Pakistan has many times sought international or third party mediation for settling problems, including the Kashmir issue.
“However, participating in the SCO will benefit these two countries in terms of establishing a platform for mutual communication and negotiation,” he said.
India could communicate directly with China and Pakistan through the SCO to better understand and ease India’s resistance to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Chen said.
“This can play a positive role, but we do not expect that India will utterly change its attitude to the CPEC because of joining the SCO,” he said. India should accept the fact that China is strengthening its cooperation with other south Asian countries, and it should also understand that it would benefit from a more positive attitude, he added.
India is opposed to China’s Belt and Road Initiative as a strand of it—CPEC—runs through Gilgit and Baltistan, which India claims as part of its territory of Kashmir, illegally occupied by Pakistan. India pointedly stayed away from an international summit organised by China in Beijing last month and aimed at garnering support for its plans to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects including railways, ports and power grids across Asia, Africa and Europe.
Qian Feng, a researcher at the National Strategy Institute at Beijing-based Tsinghua University, was of the view that India and Pakistan entering the SCO was “both an opportunity and a challenge”.
“If the two countries—which have had long-term disputes over issues such as anti-terrorism efforts and Kashmir—bring their disagreements to the SCO, the club’s internal cohesion is likely to be challenged,” Qian said.
“In the worst-case scenario, the other SCO members might have to spend more time and energy on mediating between the two countries, and therefore devoting less energy to reaching a consensus on cooperation among all parties,” he said.
On the positive side, the SCO “will perhaps provide a fresh platform for China, India and Pakistan to talk about the CPEC and help reduce India’s misunderstanding of the project. The SCO’s expansion is likely to be good news for the development of the CPEC,” he said.