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RSTV – THE BIG PICTURE ANALYSIS : SCO SUMMIT 2020 

The Topic covers GS paper 2[Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.] 

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Context

  • Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will be invited to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of Government meeting to be held in India at the end of this year. 
  • Invitations will be sent to all the member countries of the SCO for the summit to take place later this year.  

What is the Background? 

  • The SCO has eight members – India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and four observer states - Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia. 
  • The official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Raveesh Kumar confirmed that the invitation will be sent out to all SCO members. 
  • It will be interesting to see if Prime Minister Khan attends the SCO summit or sends a representative on his behalf. 
  • In 2014, former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif had visited India after an invite for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in was sent to all heads of SAARC countries. 
  • Since then no Pak prime minister has visited India. 
  • India has scrapped all bilateral meetings with Pakistan and has held the neighbouring country responsible for sponsoring terror attacks in Kashmir.

What is Shanghai cooperation Organisation?

  • Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation, which was founded in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan in the year 2001. 
  • It was preceded by the ‘Shanghai Five mechanism’.
  • India, Iran, and Pakistan gained observer status in the organization at a July 2005 SCO summit in Kazakhstan.
  • India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members on 9 June 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

What are its objectives?

  • Security-related concerns
  • Resolving border issues
  • Military cooperation
  • Intelligence sharing
  • Countering terrorism
  • Countering American influence in Central Asia

What is the need to invite Pakistan?

  • This is the first SCO summit that is going to be held in India. 
  • India cannot afford to look like someone as a spoiler.  
  • India’s role should be seen as someone who plays a constructive role and expands engagement in a multilateral forum like SCO. 
  • Earlier central Asia was the central focus of the organisation but with the joining of India and Pakistan two years ago it now also focused on South Asia. 
  • It comes with the nature of the organisation that inviting Pakistan is necessary.
  • Neither India nor Pakistan would like to do something which shows them as an odd man out, especially in a grouping for which both of the nations have been striving for a long time to get inside.
  • At this juncture, India would like to show to the grouping that it abides by the rules.

What is the relevance of SCO to India?

  • For India, two important objectives are counter-terrorism and connectivity. 
  • These sit with the SCO's main objective of working cooperatively against the 'three evils' - terrorism, separatism, and extremism. 
  • India wants access to intelligence and information from SCO's counter-terrorism body, the Tashkent-based Regional Anti Terror Structure (RATS). 
  • RATS provide access to non-Pakistan-centred counter-terrorism information there.
  • Connectivity is important for India's Connect Central Asia policy. 
  • It will help India in trade opportunities. 
  • Energy cooperation dominates its interest - and it's in China's neighbourhood. 
  • In the absence of the SAARC, the SCO gives an opportunity for Indian and Pakistani leaders to meet informally, on the sidelines. 
  • Both sides have the obligation not to bring in bilateral disputes, but can cooperate on issues of mutual interest and importance. 
  • SCO as an organisation: 
  • It covers a vast geographical expanse and is major Euro-Asian organisation.
  • With the presence of India and China, the world's most populous countries, SCO is now the organisation that has the largest population coverage. 
  • There are four nuclear powers operating in this organisation – India, Russia, China and Pakistan, which makes it a major power.
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is seen as an eastern counter-balance to NATO. 
  • With India being its member, it will allow the country to push effective action in combating terrorism and on issues related to security.

What are the issues related?

  • Terrorism is one of the main focuses of SCO and India will try to highlight this issue.
  • Connectivity problem is one of the biggest challenges as far as central Asia is concerned. 
  • Central Asia is a large market for India and those countries also want to increase its trade ties with India.
  • Pakistan does not allow India to use its route to export the items. Iran has its own tensions with the USA, which creates hurdles for India.
  • China can help India in this issue and allowed India to use its route.
  • On many occasion, China opposes India’s moves in international platforms and forums and use Pakistan for a proxy war against India.
  • China does not want India to compete with it in the global arena. That’s why not only with Pakistan but China likes to engage with each of India’s neighbours, basically to keep India confined to South Asia.
  • For India, China is a big trade partner and a major world power in its neighbour. Using its soft power, India should manage its relations with China rather than fighting with it.

Conclusion

India is on the right track and the only choice for it is to talk and discuss concern issues. SCO is a great forum for India to showcase its potential and India must work to ensure that the coming summit is a success.