SCO is growing in stature and it has become a regional force with all important regional countries joining its fold. The recent SCO summit in Chinese city of Qingdao attracted the attention of the world as the moot concerned the fates of the largest portion of global population. SCO leaders were very cognizant of the importance of their mission and were prepared to devise plans for embarking upon it.
The follow-up of the summit also saw congregation of the second most influential tier of SCO comprising of Heads of the Governments Council of the member countries in Dushanbe in Tajikistan. The primary emphasis of the gathering was on trade and economic cooperation between member countries with a view that the joint spread of SCO required high level of economic integration for achieving better results.
The meeting also paid great attention to developing solutions to the emerging challenges as well as humanitarian cooperation and cultural promotion. The meeting also deliberated the most important subject of collective peace and also gave attention to the new emerging circumstances of the global economy and regional threats of terrorism and instability.
The follow-up of the summit also saw congregation of
the second most influential tier of SCO comprising of Heads of the Governments Council of the member countries in Dushanbe in Tajikistan
Just 16 years after its establishment in 2001, SCO now comprises 8 full member countries Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan that have gelled together to form a strong regional block. SCO has also given observer status to Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia and their chances of joining the alliance as full members may be the next step. SCO also entertains some states as ‘dialogue partners’ and this includes Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia while ASEAN, CIS and Turkmenistan are the guest attendees.
SCO comprises almost 20 percent of the world’s GDP, 75 percent of the world’s energy resources and it covers 42 percent of the world population with four declared nuclear powers. The joint cooperation of four nuclear powers is in itself a matter of tremendous significance. The presence of Russia is also unique as its participation in European affairs is also considered equally weighty. Apart from having a primary focus on security, the SCO has exceptional potential for deeper economic opportunities between member states.
With the passage of time SCO is developing more on the model of EU as it is transforming from purely a security and policy coordination organization into the largest economic hub after EU itself. The initiation of BRI has added plenty of value to the alliance as China is trying to extend its investment to other countries of the region.
The economies of the SCO region already have significant influence in the global economic world order as China, Russia and India are global players with tremendous potential of increasing their worth. It is often observed that SCO countries contain a strong urge for strong regional integration and developing into a very potent alliance.
The recent meeting saw the inclusion of Habib Bank Limited of Pakistan as part of the SCO Interbank Consortium. This consortium deals with ensuring smooth transaction of monetary flows and facilitates economic development. SCO has been approached by a number of banks and financial institutions for becoming part of the monetary integration that augurs well for the alliance.
SCO is very mindful about the state of agriculture prevalent in the member countries. It is aware that its member countries are rich in agricultural-based products and it wants to develop this sector as much as possible. The region encompassing SCO is vast but it also faces food shortages and agricultural depravity. SCO is concentrating on employing modern scientific techniques to modernise agricultural practices and to implement joint projects.
The follow-up meeting paid tremendous attention to the education sector. The regional countries have a sizeable chunk of highly educated people but it wants to increase the sector to include much more. It has devised means to increase collaboration in educational pursuits. Russia has developed a huge resource of technically-oriented personnel and it wants to share its expertise with the regional countries of the SCO. This aspect is of importance to Pakistan that lacks technical expertise in many fields.
The meeting witnessed a strong desire from all sides to develop a mechanism for free movement of goods, capitals, services and technology. The prominent sectors include energy sector that is the common need of all member countries. Russia is very rich in gas and Central Asian oil reserves are gradually being exploited. The energy needs of Pakistan could very well be met by cooperation under the auspices of SCO.
To emphasise its role in SCO, Pakistan is ready to offer transit routes to SCO members, counter terrorism expertise, tourism and cultural exchange programs. Tajikistan discussed CASA 1000 project which would transit 1,000 MW hydroelectricity to Pakistan meeting its energy needs. TAPI is another potential project due to be completed in 2020. SCO promises to be tremendously beneficial to Pakistan and will be w worthy alliance to be part of.
Malik Nasir Mahmood Aslam is a seasoned social activist