Kashmir Issue may become a big challenge for SCO


Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), was created in Shanghai, China, on June 15, 2001, is a political, economic, and security organization of Eurasia in nature. Originally it included 6 countries namely China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Later on, Pakistan and India also joined on June 09, 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. Currently, it has 8 members and 4 observer states like Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia. There are also 6 dialogue partners too, which include: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. The government of Pakistan gives it very high importance and committed to actively participate.

With the main goals and Tasks as:

· To strengthen mutual trust, friendship and good neighborliness between the Member States;

· To consolidate multidisciplinary cooperation in the maintenance and strengthening of peace, security, and stability in the region and promotion of a new democratic, fair and rational political and economic international order;

· To jointly counteract terrorism, separatism, and extremism in all their manifestations, to fight against illicit narcotics and arms trafficking and other types of criminal activity of a transnational character, and also illegal migration;

· To encourage the efficient regional cooperation in such spheres as politics, trade and economy, defense, law enforcement, environmental protection, culture, science and technology, education, energy, transport, credit and finance, and also other spheres of common interest;

· To facilitate comprehensive and balanced economic growth, social and cultural development in the region through joint action on the basis of equal partnership for the purpose of a steady increase of living standards and improvement of living conditions of the peoples of the member States;

· To coordinate approaches to integration into the global economy;

· To promote human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the international obligations of the member States and their national legislation;

· To maintain and develop relations with other States and international organizations;

· To cooperate in the prevention of international conflicts and in their peaceful settlement;

· To jointly search for solutions to the problems that would arise in the 21st century.

Achievements were witnessed as long as it was limited to the original 6 founding member’s organization until 2017. But now it has already added two new members Pakistan and Indian in 2017 and wanted to expand further in the future to involve 4 observer and 6 dialogue members.

As a matter of fact, SCO has contributed to reverted back to the “Multipolar” world. After the disintegration of the former USSR on 26 December 1991, the world was emerged “Unipolar”. As a result, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan were destroyed, without any resistance from any corner of the world. But, today, no single country, how strong it may be, cannot take unilateral action. 

Pakistan and India are full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The Indian unilateral action on Kashmir on the 5th of August 2019, has created a big crisis between Pakistan and India. The situation is so tense that both are at the chunk of War. As both are nuclear states and possess as much as piles of lethal weapons that can destroy each other completely. It is a threat to the whole region even in the case of nuclear war, which may affect the whole world. According to Article 2 of Charter of SCO, the member States of SCO shall adhere to the following principles:

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;

Equality of all member States, the search of common positions on the basis of mutual understanding and respect for opinions of each of them;

· Gradual implementation of joint activities in the spheres of mutual interest;

· Peaceful settlement of disputes between the member States;

· SCO is not directed against other States and international organizations;

· Prevention of any illegitimate acts directed against SCO interests;

· Implementation of obligations arising out of the present Charter and other documents adopted within the framework of SCO, in good faith.

SCO was very successful in resolving many issues and disputes among the former USSR’s newly independent states. It has resolved border disputes, extremism, terrorism, trafficking and smuggling issues to a huge extent. SCO also played a vital role in promoting trade and tourism, improving economies of member states. It was functioning perfectly as long as it was limited to the original 6 countries. 

After expansion in 2017, India and Pakistan joined as full members, the issues between India and Pakistan are rather complicated and complex in nature. Especially, the Kashmir issue, which has emerged recently by Indian unilateral amending its constitution and imposing an unlimited curfew. While, Kashmir is a disputed territory between Pakistan, China and India, and active on the UN agenda. 

It is a big challenge for SCO, and if it could not settle the Kashmir issue according to the UN charter, the future expansion of SCO may suffer and the reputation of SCO may not get wider recognition. Especially, China and Russia are big powers in SCO and can influence India to implement UN resolution in later and spirit. I believe it is the right time for SCO to prove its potential and gain trust globally.

SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov of The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is willing to take on the responsibility for maintaining security and ensuring development in the region, he told reporters in Beijing recently, in a response to a question about the member states India and Pakistan.

"Today, India and Pakistan sit at the negotiation table together with six founder states, resolving the issues of regional importance: ensuring regional security, mutual counteraction of threats and challenges, ensuring social-economic development. An impressive package of documents and decisions signed during the historic summit in Qingdao is also a result of joint and effective work by the SCO in a new format," Norov noted. Expanded cooperation of India and Pakistan with other SCO member states is an important positive factor for further enhancement of SCO cooperation in the interest of improving the political image of India and Pakistan in Eurasia, he added.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomate), Academician, Researcher, Peace-activist, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), Islamabad, Pakistan. E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com)