A few months ago, Pakistan successfully managed to secure the membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which is, doubtlessly, a measureable accomplishment of Pakistan. Credit must be given to the drivers of Pakistan’s foreign policy because this membership is significant achievement of Pakistan owing to the multitude of reasons.
However, Pakistan has much more to achieve via SCO platform because this membership has not only strengthened the regional position of Pakistan but has also opened up the various avenues of liabilities for Pakistan. Therefore, this achievement is required to be capitalized further as frequently quoted “With great powers come great responsibilities”.
SCO membership is significant triumph for Pakistan for number of reasons. Pakistan and China are already enjoying the amicable relations in almost all spheres of affairs especially in economics. China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the landmark economic project which is being materialized and taking this mutual relationship to the heights. China is leading the Shanghai Club and Pakistan’s inclusion in this club is the remarkable addition to Pak-China relations.
Besides, Eurasian countries were not spotted up earlier on Pakistan’s radar for economic ventures at larger level. This membership may provide an opportunity for Pakistan to enhance the trade volume and to launch the economic projects with Eurasian countries. This success is also being considered as economic success because through this membership, Pakistan is getting back on the right economic track. Along with that, Pakistan may boost the cooperation in the fields of transportation and tourism as these fields are still untapped in Pakistan. Eurasian countries are also considered rich for tourism. Therefore, there is a wider space for joint ventures in tourism.
The fact also implies the significance of SCO-membership achievement that certain countries who were attempting to diplomatically isolate Pakistan have got clear message that they will not bear fruit in this regard. Pakistan’s inclusion in SCO was the extension of arms by member-states which explicitly illustrate the diplomatic strength of Pakistan. Moreover, India was also included in Shanghai Club and Pakistan may sort out the bilateral issues by utilizing the SCO forum. Pakistan flew in parallel with India in foreign policy paradigm and secured the membership that also notify the importance of achievement.
However, this achievement brought the major liabilities with it. Pakistan is, now, ascribed of major roles to perform. Speaking at a briefing in Beijing on June 1, spokesperson of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hua Chunying said that China hoped Pakistan and India would improve bilateral relations after becoming the full members of SCO. “We hope that Pakistan and India will inject new impetus to the development of SCO.”
Pakistan must share its counter-terrorism experience with SCO member-states, especially Russia and the Central Asian states, for whom ‘terrorism, extremism and separatism’ have become an imminent threat. Such sharing on the part of Pakistan may boost its position in SCO. Undoubtedly, sharing of this experience might be the most refined impetus to the development of SCO. The Member-states, with help of Pakistan, may propel to build a regional structure to counter the rising terrorism in which Pakistan may assume the leading role owing to its vast counter-terrorism exposure.
When it comes to the cultural world, Pakistan has more to do than India in SCO. Pakistan is enjoying the diversity of socio-culture emanating from domestic diverse socio-ethnic structure. Pakistan may offer the exchange cultural ventures to deepen the ties with member-states, particularly with Eurasian belt.
As far as global scenario is concerned, SCO is eight member-states with two of its member are permanent members of United Nation Security Council and fourth members are the nuclear power countries. SCO even can influence the global order with these potential member states. Regional order and peace is so less to achieve. SCO can ensure long-lasting peace and stability in the region by making joint efforts. Pakistan must endeavor to lead such efforts.
Pakistan should establish an institute devoted to formulate the policies of role attributed to member-states. Furthermore, institute can work out to propose different initiatives for Pakistan that may play critical role. Pakistan can advance itself in club by utilizing those initiatives that may serve the region in terms of peace and prosperity. Expanding the role of SCO, Pakistan and member states may also work for peace in Afghanistan. In short, by securing the membership, Pakistan ascribed itself with greater responsibilities and it must be looking forward to fulfill these responsibilities with epitome standards.
*Baber Ali Bhatti, associated with Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), a think-tank based in Islamabad.