China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou on Thursday allayed apprehensions aired by the state-run Chinese media that entry of Pakistan and India could disrupt the unity of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). “In the charter of the SCO there is a clause that the hostility between the bilateral relations should not be brought to the organization and I believe both the countries will abide by the charter of the organization,” he said during the flag hoisting ceremony of Pakistan and India at the SCO Headquarters in Beijing to formally admit the two nations as new members of the grouping. He said, “As a founding member of the SCO, we are very happy about the membership of India and Pakistan. China believes the entry of Pakistan and India will guarantee very good cooperation in the organization.” “Between our member states our interests far outweigh our differences. So, we should not exaggerate the differences between the countries as it is not good for the organization and cooperation between member states. After becoming members, we all become members of the big family,” he said.
Xuanyou stated that, “Both countries are important in the region and China, Pakistan and India are in similar stage of development. We face similar challenges. Therefore, we hope that through this organization we can work together to overcome these challenges.” Also, he said, “China has certain expectations of India’s role in the SCO. We have expectation for the role of India in this organization. We hope that the Indian side will give attention to its membership in this organization and pay attention to it.” Secretary General SCO, Rashid Alimov said, “This day 16 years ago, at the crossroads of two millennia, the SCO appeared on the political map of the world.” He said, “Neighborliness and unity of development goals these simple and clear principles of interstate relations enshrined in the Charter have become the fundamental foundation of a new type of Organization and have transformed the SCO into a real factor of international life.”
Rashid Alimov said, “In Astana, Kazakhstan, the leaders of the founding states of the SCO made a historic decision to accept Pakistan and India as full-fledged members of the Organization.” “Today, on the Day of the SCO, we gathered at the headquarters of the Organization for the solemn ceremony of raising the national flags of Pakistan and India”, he added. He said, “From now on, the state flags of the eight-member states of the Organization, united by the ‘Shanghai Spirit,’ will be fluttering around the emerald-blue flag of the SCO.” Rashid Alimov said, “The SCO has the right to be proud of its achievements, but no country or organization can solve the acute problems of our time alone. When the world continues to face new challenges and threats, the SCO stands firmly for uniting efforts against all forces of evil, for peace and stability, development and prosperity.”
“On the way to building a better and brighter future for each and everyone the Charter of the SCO and the Charter of the United Nations will serve as our guiding star,” he added. Terming the entry of Pakistan and India into the SCO as a historic day, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khalid said, “It is the beginning of a new journey for Pakistan.”
Speaking on the occasion, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khalid said, “It is important that India and Pakistan have joined the region. Today’s flag-raising ceremony symbolizes the start of a new journey for Pakistan.” “This is a moment of fulfillment, of accomplishment, and of success. It will remind us in future that it was on this day that we had pledged together to work for a shared vision of common development,” he said. He said, “We are part of the region. With SCO members, we share deep historical and cultural ties, as well as strong economic linkages.” The Ambassador pledged to uphold the Shanghai Spirit and the SCO Charter promote regional peace and stability and further harness the potential of SCO for regional security, connectivity and economic integration and develop people-to-people contacts and cultural interaction, he said. “We will leave no stone unturned in the attainment of greater good of our people through cooperation and understanding as SCO family,” he added.
About the utility of SCO to address contentious issues between India and Pakistan, the envoy said, “I hope so. It provides a multilateral platform where both of our countries will be there. They will be represented. There will be opportunities for interaction.” Expressing special thanks to the founding six countries for having afforded to Pakistan their support in attaining SCO’s membership, he thanked the SCO Secretary General and his team for their assistance and support that they extended during the membership process. He also expressed gratitude for people and government of Kazakhstan for hosting the historic summit in Astana. Speaking on the occasion, Indian Ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale said, “SCO is important for India as it consist of China, Russia and Central Asian states. We look forward to developing the relations with all the member countries for the mutual benefit of whole region.”
“We support enhanced connectivity and unimpeded trade in the SCO region and believe that initiatives should be pursued in an inclusive and sustainable manner with due respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all members,” he said. He said, “India would also like to deepen practical cooperation in its fight against terrorism and extremism.” He also said, “India is ready to share its expertise in various fields including science and technology for the shared prosperity of the region.” Later, Assistant Foreign Minister of China Kong Xuanyou, SCO Secretary General Rashid Alimov, Ambassadors of Pakistan and India also hit together the “Shanghai Spirit” drum, heralding the admission of their respective countries into the grouping. Ambassadors of the Observer States, representative of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, senior diplomats and officials were also present on the occasion