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A key achievement

A key achievement
Highlights

The entry of India and Pakistan into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is expected to strengthen security cooperation in the eight-member grouping. The coordinated entry of India and Pakistan into a regional security body will be marketed as the SCO’s key achievement - something even Washington has been unable to accomplish.

The entry of India and Pakistan into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is expected to strengthen security cooperation in the eight-member grouping. The coordinated entry of India and Pakistan into a regional security body will be marketed as the SCO’s key achievement - something even Washington has been unable to accomplish.

The addition of another 1.5 billion people provides fresh excitement, for the SCO will now represent the voice of three billion people - that is half the world population. The grouping, in fact, does provide a rare opportunity for the militaries of member states to engage in joint military drills where they coordinate on operational details and share intelligence.

Thanks to the SCO, in the coming months, Indian and Pakistani troops will participate in the 'Fanfare for Peace Military Tattoo' in China and will join 'Peace Mission 2018', the joint counter terrorism drill to be held in the Urals. At the Astana summit last year, when India and Pakistan were formally inducted as members, the SCO adopted an ‘anti-extremism treaty’ document which awaits approvals. The aim is to draw up measures to prevent youth from turning to extremism deepen exchanges, hold joint exercises, foster military culture, education and the training of security agencies.

A call to pledge strict adherence to the SCO charter on long-term ‘Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation’ would aim to bind the two new members - India and Pakistan - to the Shanghai Spirit through a five-year action plan that runs till 2022. Both South Asian countries will commit to ‘strictly follow’ the spirit of ‘good neighbourliness’ prescribed in Article 1 of SCO’s charter.

It is in this backdrop that the Prime Minister’s speech at SCO was expected to take a stand on fighting terrorism when he delivered India’s first address at the SCO leaders’ summit. The grouping has traditionally focused on encounter-terrorism and security issues, and India’s hope to bolster regional cooperation on combating terror. The good thing about Modi’s speech was that it was not confrontational. It said what needed to be said but did not indulge in negativity.

He laid emphasis on connectivity with the neighbourhood and in the SCO region is India's priority as he stressed that India was committed to extend full cooperation to a successful outcome of the summit. At the restricted session too Modi floated the concept of ‘SECURE’ (yet another acronym: S for security for citizens, E for economic development, C for connectivity in the region, U for unity, R for respect of sovereignty and integrity and E for environment protection).

Anti-terrorism, however, must not be emphasised too often by India vis a vis Pakistan as the SCO itself keeps it as a top priority agenda. Still, despite China’s many verbal commitments, the chances of its putting real pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting cross-border terrorism remain doubtful. What should be watched however, is whether Beijing would pressurise India to hold talks with Islamabad on Kashmir issue on the pretext of good neighbourliness.

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