SCO: Smooth and Bright future of region
SCO is a regional alliance of 8 following countries: China, Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and India, established in 2001. This region was facing instability due to intolerance, extremism, terrorism after the disintegration of former USSR. There was severe threat of further disintegration and deterioration of security situation. Also there was a threat of spreading this uncertainty in the surrounding countries of this region. With this background, SCO was established to cooperate with each other to prevent and fight against intolerance, extremism, terrorism, human trafficking, drug smuggling etc. Initially, there were 6 countries signatories of this organization. Later on 2017, India and Pakistan joined as member states. Today, there are 4 observer states: Afghanistan, Belarus, Mongolia and Iran. In addition to it, there are also 6 dialogue partners: Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. The success of SCO has attracted many countries to join it and in future it may expand as per its term and conditions.
As per the Charter of SCO, all member states will cooperate in enhancement of security and defense, in addition to economy and cultural activities. As part of its charter, just concluded on 29 August 2018, 6 days joint anti-terrorism military exercises are being held in Chebarkul town in Chelyabinsk Oblast in Russia.Altogether 3000 troops from all 8 member states participated the joint military exercises. It includes 748 troops from China, 200 troops from India and 110 troops from Pakistan. Joint military exercises were conducted in a very conducive environment and professional manners. At the end of exercises, cultural activities were organized to promote harmony and mutual understanding, it was over-all a very healthy and positive experience. Hope, in the future, under SCO platform, many more useful activities will be organized.
In a matter of fact, SCO, constitute major part of the world population (almost half of the world population) and occupies major natural resources. Full of intelligent human resource, Agriculture, Mining and minerals, Energy, Water resources etc. Yet very poor and unstable due to political disturbance. The region has huge potential to develop economically at a fast pace. SCO may be helpful in providing enabling environment.
Most of the countries in this region used to have some issues with each other. Russia and China had very tense relations in 1960s & 1970s. China India fought war in 1962, Central Asian states also passed through hostilities with each other in 1990s. India Pakistan also suffered many hostilities. India may be the most beneficiary of SCO, as India was having most hostile relations with all its neighboring countries, including China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldivesand Myanmar etc. India was spending heavily on its defense, especially the recent US–India Arms deal worth 8 billion US Dollars, Major Defense Partner (MDP), and procurement of S-400s, may initiate arms race in the region. All its neighboring states are facing a direct threat due to its acquisition of hi-tech advance weapons from USA and Russia simultaneously. But if relations among the neighboring countries improved and India can save from its defense expenditures, they may focus on socio-economic welfare of its public and fight against poverty. It will also allow the regional countries to reduce their defense budget and focus on socio-economic welfare of public. It will be wise if India solve border disputes with China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar etc and its claim over Jammu & Kashmir, Tibet, Naga Land, Sikkim, and Bhutan etc. India may also join BRI or give-up opposing it.
Pakistan has developed its infrastructure under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Network of motor ways, and Gwadar port are almost fictional partially. Railway network in at the initial stage. Soon after completion of ongoing projects, Pakistan will ready to play a role of bridge between Eurasia and Arabian Sea. Pakistan will be hub of trade routes and Gwadar will be biggest seaport of the region. It will shorten the distances, transportation time and cost. It will become the most economic and most feasible trade route of future. Pakistan is ready to play pivotal role for SCO and whole region.
SCO will resolve the domestic issues as well as with neighboring states and among all member states through mutual dialogue peacefully. Ensure each other’s security, promote harmony, stability, connectivity, enhance trade and generate economic activities and stability. I do not think it is to counter NATO or WEST or USA. Rather, it will be a regional alliance to promote cooperation among member states in all dimensions. I think regional alliances may lessen burden on UN also, as many actions were taken by USA and its allies without getting proper approval from UN and side-lined UN. It will be no threat to any country or alliances. With the expansion of SCO, inclusion of India and Pakistan, SCO has become stronger as the alliance of major population of the world, largest area of the world, richest reserves of natural resources and Energy. It possesses huge potential of growth and development. In future some more countries may join SCO and further strengthen it. Hope SCO will achieve its goal of cooperation, economic prosperity, peace and stability. It will help to eradicate poverty, improve literacy, ensure Energy and food security, Industrialization, Modernization, up-lifting standard of life of a common man. The day is not far away when SCO will become the role model and may resolve all issues faced by any country in any part of world and may be recognized globally.
Under the emerging situation of geopolitics, it will be important and natural that regional alliances may be strengthened. The word is visibly going to be divided among Pro-Globalization and Protectionists. We stand with globalization and it will favor the growing and developing economies, while protectionism may favors highly developed and advance countries only. We may complement each other on regional levels and support each other on the journey of development.
I believe, if SCO charter is implemented in its true spirit, it will make this region center of economic activities for whole world and make the inhabitants of this region rich enough to live comfortable luxury life. Let’s, implement its charter and make the world “Heaven” for our next generation, which is our obligation too. Trust, SCO will guarantee the smooth and bright future for whole region.
Author: Prof. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomate), Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.
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