Pakistan and SCO: Challenges and prospects | BY Dr Muhammad Khan

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Pakistan and SCO: Challenges and prospects

THE 2022 annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was held from September 15-16 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan under the chairmanship of Uzbek President, Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

The priorities outlined for the forum for next year one include: a) raising the potential and authority of SCO, b) making efforts for peace and stability in the region, c) reducing poverty by ensuring food security and availability of basic necessities of life.

Besides, the intraregional trade and commerce will be promoted through elimination of trade barriers, aligning technical regulations and digitalization of customs procedures.

These broad outline goals of the SCO Summit for year 2022-2023 is a welcoming step. Indeed, 22ndSummit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) took place at the most crucial time of contemporary world.

It is the first summit after Russian attack on Ukraine and Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. The Declaration of 22nd Summit of SCO called for greater cooperation among member countries of SCO with emphases against three evils; the extremism, terrorism and separatism.

Among all SCO member states, Pakistan has the distinction of playing an unparalleled role against all these evils.

On the side-lines of the summit Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif met with key heads of the member states; China, Russia, Iran, Turkey and host country.

From the forum of SCO Pakistan emphasized for cooperation that rejects confrontation and advances the imperatives of peaceful co-existence at the regional and international level.

Indeed, peace is the most needed aspect for each state at regional level as well as at global level.

Today, SCO has almost half of the global population, 25 % of world’s GDP and about 80% of Eurasian landmass.

By virtue of its geopolitical location, Pakistan is in the vicinity of world’s major economies and emerging regional markets.

Besides, it occupies a strategic location viz-a-viz great powers and their strategic interests. Therefore, “Pakistan can utilize economic tools like trade, energy, and investment, infrastructure development to further its geopolitical and geo-economic objectives in a befitting manner.

For Pakistan, the SCO is the most vital cooperative forum. Through this forum, Pakistan can seek economic assistance from major powers and regional states to prosper through trade and investment.

SCO, being an emerging security bloc, can prove greatly helpful for Pakistan in helping it from traditional and non-traditional security threats.

In order to establish international peace, Pakistan has played a great role by defeating terrorism.

Since SCO Charter is based on enhancement of comprehensive cooperation among its member countries.

The organization further aims to strengthen peace by ensuring regional security and stability for attaining multi-polarity at political level and economic prosperity at social and state level while accruing all the benefits of globalization.

Pakistan believes in peace and cooperative relationship with its neighbours. In this regard, it fits into the principal objective of SCO which calls for peace not the war and cooperation not the conflict.

There are many commonalties in SCO Charter and the foreign policy of Pakistan. As one of its permanent members, Pakistan has assumed a crucial position for this forum.

Pakistani visualization for SCO also outlined the galvanization of Shanghai Spirit to strengthen the mandate of forum while reducing the ‘risks of conflict, fostering confidence, and promoting stability.

’ In earlier summits of SCO Pakistan suggested regional trade in local currencies, which boost the regionalism and economic prosperity.

For an efficient trade, there is a need for regional connectivity through development of infrastructure and cultural affinity.

Food and health security is yet another area which Pakistan proposed for enhancing cooperation among SCO members.

Pakistan is facing worst economic crises especially in the wake of massive flooding in the country.

While outlining the opportunities for Pakistan as a member of SCO, there is a requirement to quantify them as per the objectives and charter of the organization.

Pakistan has the opportunity to get the support of all SCO members in its drive against the terrorism.

Rather, the SCO members are fully cognizant of the contribution and sacrifices, Pakistan has rendered for the global peace and security by combating terrorism.

Indeed, the SCO Charter endorses the vision of founding father of Pakistan and further provides a guideline for a value-added performance from the platform of SCO.

Since SCO aims at: strengthening mutual trust, friendship and good neighbourliness between the member States, so are foreign policy objectives of Pakistan.

Currently, Pakistan is facing massive flooding which has displaced over 33 million people. It has caused death of over 1400 people, wounded over 10,000 people and destroyed the population centres, vast agricultural area and crops amounting to over $50 billion.

SCO states must help Pakistan in the rehabilitation of flood affected areas. Besides, Pakistan is still facing militancy and terrorism sponsored from Afghan soil.

It has hostile neighbourhood and facing security challenges from its neighbourhood on account of its geopolitical location and conflicting interests of the major powers.

Besides, the unresolved Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan has kept the South Asian region in a state of war.

In order to dislodge the CPEC, India is promoting separatism, extremism and terrorism in different parts of Pakistan which is against the basic spirit of SCO.

Pakistan is not in favour of any arms race, but it desires other regional countries like India to cooperate for promotion of peace and regional stability in South Asia and broader SCO region.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

 

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