Beijing: India and Pakistan could be officially admitted as full members of China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation security grouping during a key summit later this year in Kazakhstan, its secretary-general has said.
Welcoming the seventh and the eighth member-nations would be a key item on the agenda during the SCO summit in Astana on 8-9 June, Rashid Alimov said on Sina Weibo, which is similar to Twitter in China, according to state-run Global Times.
The SCO, headquartered in Beijing, was founded in 2001.
A political and security organisation comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, it is aimed at military cooperation between the member states and involves intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism operations in Central Asia and joint work against cyber terrorism.
With India and Pakistan’s membership, the SCO will include countries encompassing over 40% of the world’s population.
Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have “observer" status. The grouping’s 2015 summit in Ufa in Russia formally adopted a resolution starting the procedures to admit India and Pakistan into the SCO.
Both the countries signed a Memorandum of Obligations to join the organisation during last year’s summit in Tashkent.
Li Xing, director of the Eurasian Studies Centre at Beijing Normal University, told the daily that SCO membership of India and Pakistan will extend the geographical range of the SCO to South Asia, instead of being confined to Central Asia.
The membership of India and Pakistan is expected to mitigate their conflict and may even push them to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Li claimed.
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The non-military organisation will connect countries through national strategies such as China’s ambitious ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, as well as South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, (SAARC) led by India, Li said.
As for Iran, one of the four observer nations of the SCO, it will be considered for membership when it is free from nuclear sanctions, if it files an application again, Zhao Huirong, a research fellow of Central Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the daily. PTI