The membership of India and Pakistan in the SCO could bring them closer to address their differences and help facilitate New Delhi’s attendance at the SAARC summit in Islamabad, a senior Pakistani diplomat said today. “The SCO is important organisation for Pakistan and India. This not an organisation to settle disputes but work for the region and common challenges and for common development,” Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, Deputy Ambassador of Pakistan to China, said. At the same time the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) could help bring India and Pakistan closer to address their differences. “Of course, when you are together and work for the same organisation, you have opportunities to resolve many of the issues and come close,” she told Indian journalists at an SCO briefing specially arranged to highlight the entry of India and Pakistan into the grouping at the just concluded summit at Astana. Baloch along with India’s Ambassador to China, Vijay Gokhale, attended the briefing along with other diplomats at SCO headquarters here. At the same time, Baloch also hoped that the entry of India and Pakistan into the SCO would pave the way for the 19th summit of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Islamabad which could not be held last year after India along with other members of the grouping decided to stay away following the Uri terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir. “We really hope that SAARC which is our regional organisation would find a way to move beyond the differences,” she said.
“We really hope that India would able to come Pakistan for the SAARC summit. In the end, we are neighbours and it is important for us strengthen SAARC as an organisation,” she said. While Baloch dismissed apprehensions over India and Pakistan’s entry into China-dominated SCO, official Chinese media said with their entry, the SCO is now facing both an opportunity and challenges. “If the two countries – which have had long-term disputes over issues such as anti-terrorism efforts and Kashmir – bring their disagreements to the SCO, the club’s internal cohesion is likely to be challenged,” Chen Xiaochen, director of the International Studies, Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, told state-run Global Times.
“However, on the positive side, the SCO is set to become an international organisation with its members accounting for the majority of the world’s territory and population, and this offers a huge amount of potential for development”, and expand the influence of the organisation in international and regional affairs in various fields, especially in security, geopolitics and the economy. “Russia has showed a positive attitude toward joining the CPEC, and SCO membership will offer opportunities for Pakistan to launch direct talks with Russia and other countries if it wants to. The organisation will perhaps provide a fresh platform for China, India and Pakistan to talk about the CPEC and help reduce India’s misunderstanding of the project. The SCO’s expansion is likely to be good news for the development of the CPEC,” he said.