India and Pakistan are expected to start the process of joining the security group led by China and Russia later this week, according to a Chinese senior diplomat on Monday.
During a press briefing, China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheng Guoping said India and Pakistan are joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which was established on June 17, 2001.
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The current members of the SCO include China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The primary objective of the organization is to strengthen the confidence and relationships among the member countries.
The SCO also promotes effective cooperation in economy and trade, politics, science and technology, education, culture, energy, transportation, tourism, environmental protection and other areas. The organization also aims to maintain peace, security and stability in the region, and to move forward to establishing a new democratic, just, and rational political and international economic order.
The SCO was originally formed to fight threats from radical Islan and drug trafficking from Afghanistan.
India, Pakistan would play a constructive role to improve bilateral relations
It is the first time for SCO to expand its membership since its establishment. According to China’s Foreign Affairs Vice Minister Guoping, more countries in the region including India and Pakistan are joining the SCO because of its development.
According to Guoping, India and Pakistan’s would play an important role in SCO’s development. He emphasized that both countries would play a constructive role in pushing for the improvement of their bilateral relations.
India and Pakistan are nuclear-arm rivals. The countries fought in numerous armed conflicts since becoming independent. Since 1947, India and Pakistan fought each other in three major wars.
India and Pakistan fought in the so-called First Kashmir War between 1947 and 1948. The countries fought over the states of Kashmir and Jammu.
In 1965, India and Pakistan engaged in another war. The conflict between the two countries started due to Pakistan’s Operation Gibraltar. Pakistan infiltrated the Kashmir and Jammu forces to ignite insurgency against the rule of India. In response, India launched a full military attack on the West Pakistan. The war lasted seventeen days, which resulted in thousands of casualties.
The third major war between India and Pakistan occurred during the Bangladesh Liberation in 1971. The direct military conflict between India and Pakistan was caused by the Operation Chengiz Khan. Pakistan launched a pre-emptive air strike on India’s 11 air bases on December 3, 1971.
PM Modi & PM Nawaz likely to hold a separate meeting at SCO summit
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are expected to attend the SCO Summit in Russia this week.
The Prime Ministers will likely conduct a separate meeting during the summit in the city of Ufa in Russia on July 10. Modi and Nawaz met during the SAARC summit in Kathmandu last November, but the leaders did not hold formal talks at the time.
Qazi Khalilullah, the spokesman at the Foreign Office of Pakistan, indicated the possibility for PM Nawaz and PM Modi to meet on the sidelines of the SCO summit. However, he emphasized that there is no formal communication between the two leaders regarding a meeting.
Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss security issues during the SCO summit
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to discuss the security issues during the SCO summit. According to Guoping, separatist groups in the far western region of Xinjiang want to form a state called East Turkestan. Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur minority, which has a connection to the militants in Central Asia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
China said the Uighur militants are operating under the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The militant group is also working with the Islamic State.
Guoping said, “It can be said that ETIM certainly has links with the Islamic State and has participated in relevant terrorist activities. China is paying close attention to this, and will have security cooperation with relevant countries.”