Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) warmup sessions are in full swing to achieve maximum output for the upcoming summit in June to overcome the major challenges and for more comprehensive cooperation between the member countries.
The SCO comprises eight full members, four observers and six dialogue partners that account for half of the world population, a quarter of the global GDP and 80 percent of the Eurasian territory. With these unique features, the SCO has become one of the world’s leading political, economic and security organizations.
SCO’s recent Council of Foreign Ministers and Defense Ministers meetings are the first such high profile gatherings, signaling that the organization has made great strides.
The SCO has a massive reach with the huge population of its member states, yet the challenges increase as new members join the organization.
Regional security and peace
One of the major objectives and area of interest of the SCO is to boost the security of the region and to build peace and stability among the member countries.
The menace of terrorism has destroyed the economies and infrastructure of the various countries for decades. SCO’s top priorities are peace and stability in the region, which can only be realized through win-win cooperation and a shared future for mankind, initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The SCO can become a key effective pillar of regional security by boosting its cooperation toward member countries and other neighbors. The trilateral initiative between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan which Beijing has taken is a step forward to enhancing the regional security and stability.
The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the SCO gave an opportunity to all member countries to combat terrorism, extremisms and separatism, which poses a serious threat to all members.
There is a dire need to fully implement the RATS and to combat all such forms of extremism and terrorism while gathering all stakeholders on one platform. There is also a vital obligation to root out the menace of terrorism and extremism.
The unfriendly attitude and behavior among the SCO member countries (Pakistan and India) is a big challenge, but the countries that have differences and confrontations should be avoided under the SCO umbrella.
The SCO has been formed on such strong principles that it is difficult for any other organization to be able to give such a great opportunity to the member countries to form mutual respect of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity of States and inviolability of State borders, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, non-use of force or threat of its use in international relations, seeking no unilateral military superiority in adjacent areas.
The equality of all member states is the sole purpose of this organization.
SCO and Belt and Road Initiative
The Belt and Road Initiative is an integral part of SCO member countries, as this project is key to changing the fate of those countries, especially the one that have witnessed the deadliest terrorism in the past two decades.
Though projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have proven to be game changers in the economy and infrastructure of a country, there is still a dire need for numerous projects in the SCO member countries in Central Asia and South Asia to boost their economies.
Defense cooperation between member states
To combat regional terrorism and extremism, strong defense cooperation between the SCO member countries is inevitable. Russia will host the “Peace Mission 2018” anti-terror war game this year so the participation of all member countries will provide an opportunity to further strengthen their defense forces against all forms of internal and external threats and challenges.
The participation of the two new member countries, Pakistan and India, in the “Peace Mission 2018” is highly encouraging for dealing with regional security challenges.
With strong cooperation in defense among the SCO member countries, they can move forward toward the concept of “international information security.”
(Malik Ayub Sumbal is a columnist, political analyst and broadcaster. The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.)