Granting full membership to India and Pakistan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will encourage the two countries to put aside disputes and bring a more positive spirit for the bloc’s common development, experts said on Tuesday.
The accession of the two countries was the most important item on the SCO 2017 summit’s agenda in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, as it was the first time the SCO expanded its membership since it was established in 2001. Their inclusion will boost the bloc’s development and potential, according to a joint communiqué.
However, the move sparked speculation that it has overshadowed the group, and would threaten unity within the bloc, considering the rift between India and Pakistan. “I don’t think so. We enjoy a very positive spirit in this organization and it’s important that each country also brings with it a positive spirit,” Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, Minister Counselor of Pakistan’s Embassy in China, told the Global Times.
“It’s very important that we work together and contribute to the region’s development and achieve more understanding between all parties in the SCO,” she added. While emphasizing the importance of working together, Baloch noted that the inclusion of India and Pakistan also requires that all parties to face up to challenges to the region’s stability and economic development, and to work towards a common development.
Li Wei, an expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that India and Pakistan will be encouraged to put aside disputes and conflicts, and to develop a relationship that focuses on shared benefits.
Their inclusion also enhanced room for the regional development of the Belt and Road initiative, whose GDP accounts for about one-fifth of the world’s. The leaders of the SCO member countries also called for more cooperation among SCO countries in areas such as information security, anti-corruption, infrastructure and financial projects to support regional connectivity read the joint communiqué.
The leaders of SCO members also released a statement on jointly fighting global terrorism following the summit, in which they strongly condemned all forms of terrorism.