Tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir would pose the largest challenge to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and its anti-terrorism mechanisms, a Chinese daily said today. “The inclusion of India and Pakistan will add to the political dimension of the SCO, whose members’ value systems, characteristics of national development and core concerns, will be more diversified,” an editorial in the state-run Global Times said. The editorial came as the six-member grouping is set to admit India and Pakistan as full members. The daily said the admission of India and Pakistan has created worry over whether their long-standing hostility would be brought to the SCO, instigating internal disputes.
While SCO can lay the foundations for solving divergences between the two, “it won’t be an easy job. However, the organisation must face such tests as it expands”, it said. “How India’s participation in the SCO will influence the organisation’s internal leadership has been discussed a lot. Most of the discussion is framed by traditional thinking. The SCO is not a place for leadership competition. Some Indian media should free itself from outdated views, and embrace new patterns of regional cooperation,” it said. An article the same daily said “if India and Pakistan are unable to realise mutual understanding on their disputes, including the Kashmir issue, the possibility of conflict remains high between both nations.”
“Under those circumstances, it would represent the largest challenge to the SCO, and China and Russia must make more diplomatic effort to alleviate and improve India-Pakistan relations,” he said. Furthermore, the pressure from non-traditional security threats involving India and Pakistan will increase the difficulty in combating terrorism by the SCO. Pakistan is seen by the US as a major anti-terrorism partner as its northern areas are frequented by the Taliban. The ever-tense counter-terrorism situation in the region can be seen by the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 and suicide bombings at a Pakistani shrine in February of this year, it said.
“Although India and Pakistan’s admission as full members into the SCO will bring about convenience in information- sharing and mechanism advantages, ensuing pressure and difficulties in fighting against terrorism will also be increased,” it said. “Since the signing of the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism in June 2001, SCO member states have strengthened the crackdown on the three forces, of terrorism, extremism and separatism,” it said.
“However, it is only restricted to China, Russia, and member states of Central Asia. At present, anti-terrorism actions have been expanded to South Asia, especially in India and Pakistan where the situation is relatively grave. Their inclusion will present a major test to the present anti- terrorism mechanisms of the SCO,” it said “Finally, the inclusion of India and Pakistan into the SCO will examine the cohesiveness of the organisation…With the admission of more member states, problems began to be more visible,” it said. “From a realistic point of view, the addition of new member states will inevitably bring more problems to the organisation. China and Russia have controlled the development of the SCO in the past, the admission of two major powers in South Asia will require increasing efforts on their parts to continue exerting influence over it,” it said.
The SCO is comprised of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as full members. Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status. Its 2015 summit in Ufa in Russia has formally adopted a resolution which started the procedures to admit India and Pakistan into the SCO. Both the countries signed a Memorandum of Obligations to join the organisation in last year’s summit in Tashkent.