Amid rising global and regional challenges and tensions, the 19th Heads of State Summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization was held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan this June. The Summit has also marked the second consecutive year for both Pakistan and India participating in this one of the largest and influential regional groupings as permanent members.

Apart from regular bilateral discussions on the forum, much emphasis and focus of the attention were on the bilateral meetings especially that of between Prime Minister of India and Pakistan. Along with Pakistan and India, the two South Asian nuclear rivals, this magnificent Summit was attended by all the heads of states of permanent members, dialogue partners, and observers including Russia, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Belarus.

All credit goes to the government of Kyrgyzstan for hosting and organizing such an important Summit in a remarkable manner.  This year’s summit assumed significance for SCO members due to ongoing developments in the international arena. Firstly, trade frictions of China and India with the US.

China and the US have been engaged in conflict over trade for a year with both countries applying tariffs on each other’s products. This trade war further escalated in recent months when Washington tightened trade restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei. Summit was expected to provide an opportunity to China and India to reach a consensus on trade protectionism and unilateralism during their meetings on the sidelines of the Summit.

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India is also facing trade frictions with the U.

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S. after the termination of India’s status of Beneficiary Developing Country under Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). Secondly, the Pulwama attack in February 2019 proved to be a major setback in historical Indo-Pakistan rivalry taking relations between both states at their lowest. This Summit was an opportunity to newly reaffirm Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan to interact for the first time and deescalate the tensions.

Thirdly Iran an observer state of SCO, engaged in a serious confrontation with the US after the withdrawal of the US from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and crippling sanctions on Iranian oil, and attack on two tankers on Gulf on Oman where the US accused Iran of the attack also attended the summit.

Summit provided member states with an opportunity to reach a suitable consensus on ongoing global complications. Bishkek Declaration was adopted at the end of the Summit where members condemn terrorism in all its forms, reached a consensus regarding the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and Convention on Probation of development, Production and stockpiling of Biological Weapons, supported work of Afghan people and government in promoting peace.

In the economic sphere, the Bishkek declaration ought to expand and deepen cooperation in trade, finance, investment, agriculture, technology. Promotion of trade in local currencies and development of business incubation centers in SCO countries to support youth start-up projects within the framework of SCO youth council.

Russia assumed the next presidency of SCO. The “Roadmap for Further Action of SCO Contact Group” was signed by the leaders which argued for peace process conducted and led by Afghan people themselves and the UN playing an important role. Clearly, SCO is an important platform for the member states for interaction and cooperation.

It now depends upon the states including India and Pakistan whether they will continue to linger on with their conflicts or will overcome their differences and play a role in changing the world order. Another important initiative was SCO Youth Council wherein Pakistan has recently been added as a member.

Being a youthful country with having 70 percent young population, Pakistan may be an asset for the Council. It all depends upon the fact that how effectively we will be utilizing this forum and moving our interests and objectives through linking the communities.  Pakistan has put forward its best bet during this SCO Summit with its outreach and reflecting on Eurasia as an important regional focus.

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Bilateral meetings of Pakistani premier and as a result of these discussions, there is a clear message that Pakistan with all its challenges look for the ways for the regional cooperation and always encouraged and ready to partner to support the regional development initiatives.

Here, of course, it is important to note the successful foreign policy and a peace-loving policy of Pakistan. As a result, the prestige of Pakistan is growing with each passing day especially the relationship with the neighboring countries is increasing and they are also ready to cooperate. Pakistan only needs to put its house on order for getting the maximum out of these partnerships.

Previous articleThe Diplomatic Insight May 2019 (English)
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