Astana: India is expected to have a greater say in pushing for effective action in combating terrorism and on issues relating to security when it becomes a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the annual summit of the grouping, seen as a counterweight to Nato.
India, one of the largest energy consuming countries in the world, is also likely to get greater access to major gas and oil exploration projects in Central Asia once it becomes part of the SCO. Many of the current members of the six-nation grouping have huge reserves of oil and natural gas. The SCO summit is taking place here in the Kazak capital in the backdrop of a series of major terror attacks in a number of countries including Iran, Britain and Afghanistan and ways to combat terrorism effectively are likely to be deliberated upon extensively by the grouping.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the summit on Friday and he is likely to flag the issue of terrorism and the need for concerted efforts to combat it. India and Pakistan will formally be admitted as members of the SCO, capping a three-year-long process. The SCO had set the ball rolling to make India a member of the bloc during its summit in Ufa in Russia in July 2015 when the administrative hurdles were cleared to grant membership to India and Pakistan.
The 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 Tashkent SCO Summit in June 2010 had lifted the moratorium on new membership, paving the way for expansion of the grouping. India feels as SCO member, it will be able to play a major role in addressing the threat of terrorism in the region.
India is also keen on deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence. “I look forward to deepening India’s association with the SCO which will help us in economic, connectivity and counter-terrorism cooperation, among other things," Prime Minister Modi said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Together, we will harvest new opportunities for beneficial engagement and redouble efforts to address common challenges that may come in the way of realising our full potential," he added. At this meeting, on completion of the process, India will become a full member of the SCO upon which SCO will represent over 40% of humanity and nearly 20% of the global GDP, he said.
India has been an observer at the SCO since 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region. Russia has been favouring permanent SCO membership for India while China pushed for the induction of Pakistan. PTI