Islamabad, SEPT 20 – The experts at a webinar said the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is getting stronger to safeguard interests of the countries in the region. Covid-19 has played havoc with the world economy, especially the poor and developing economies have suffered a lot. The pandemic has extreme effects on the SCO region as well. That is why the next SCO heads of states meeting would be crucial for coming up with the post-covid-19 regional policy framework.
Afghan peace process and its impact in the region is expected to be another top agenda besides resolving the pending conflicts between the countries of the region. Working out the regional cooperation for sustainable peace and economic prosperity, and cooperation in the health sector would be other priority tasks for discussions.
The webinar was organized by the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) on Saturday on the SCO’s role in conflict management. The participants included geopolitical analyst from Beijing Zoon Ahmed Khan, senior journalist and political analyst from Washington Anwar Iqbal, Eurasian affairs expert Dr Fahim Akhtar, global security analyst Dr Ashfaq Ahmed and CGSS research fellow Anushka Johum. The webinar was hosted and conducted by Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed.
Zooh Ahmed khan said SCO provides equal opportunity to all countries to represent their development agenda for regional cooperation as envisioned in the SCO charter and mandate. Though each one has the right to present their case, no one can play hegemonic. The respective committees sit together and discuss issues to resolve them.
She said the SCO’s main goals are to strengthening mutual trust and neighborliness among the member states; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.
Ms Khan said the Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO. It meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organization. The SCO Heads of Government Council (HGC) meets once a year to discuss the organization’s multilateral cooperation strategy and priority areas, to resolve current important economic and other cooperation issues, and also to approve the organization’s annual budget. The forthcoming meetings are very important in the context of rising economic conflict between China and the US.
Anwar Iqbal said SCO no doubt is getting stronger and meaningful but the question is if it would be able to combat the new emerging bloc in the region where India would be playing proxy for the US-Israel alliance against China. India would be taking on China in the SCO and would not succeed. The same will be the case of Indian-Held Jummu and Kashmir (IOJK). SCO won’t be able to sort out the Kashmir solution in near future even cannot compel India to soften the siege of the territory.
He said Pakistan has lost its strategic importance in the US after getting closer to China on CPEC and other economic fronts. Despite repeated assurances from Pakistan, the decades old relationship is not going to the same pitch.
Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed said with all the hegemonic efforts by India, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has been dead now. But there is a need for a vigorous and vibrant regional cooperation organization. Having a comprehensive agenda of the regional cooperation and support to all basic sectors, this SCO would fulfil the void. It has the potential to grow like European Union (EU) with large development funds and a regional currency or any other mechanism of trade.
Dr Fahim Akhtar said the SCO is pacing up on its agenda with a consistency, building up trust among the member states, and finalizing policy frameworks for the future discourse and action. Having two veto powers and strong countries and with the inclusion of Iran, the SCO is going stronger. If all the members stand united, they would become a force to combat challenges confronting the region from external forces.