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With rising China, resurgent Russian and realignment of regional and global dynamics, the role and significance

of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has increased manifold. The Summit of SCO was the first for
Pakistan and India as full members of the organization, which brings new opportunities and hope as well as
challenges for the region. This brief briefly reviews the key themes of the Summit and foresees Pakistan’s
role in it.

short-sighted and closed-door policies,’ ‘uphold WTO

T he 18th Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation


Organization (SCO) was held at Qingdao,
Shandong province of China, on 9-10 June
2018. It was the first SCO Summit attended by
Pakistan and India following their accession as full
rules, and ‘support the multilateral trading system’ to
‘build an open world economy.’
President Xi motivated the SCO member states to
members of SCO. The SCO Summit took place in the ‘build an SCO community with a shared future,’ and
backdrop of an emerging World Order characterized develop ‘a new type of international relations based on
by a shift from the West (Atlantic) to the East (Asia & lasting peace, universal security, and common
Pacific), the phenomenal economic rise of China prosperity. He laid special emphasis on the
during last four decades and its incremental military implementation of the Qingdao Declaration and other
build-up, the resurgence of Russia, remarkable growth 20 documents signed during the Summit especially the
in Asian economies and the phasing out of the Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighborliness,
American-led post-World War II Order in the wake of Friendship and Cooperation; the 2019-2021 program
the end of the Cold War and America’s unipolar of cooperation for combating ‘‘three evil forces’’ of
moment (1993-2003). terrorism, separatism, and extremism,’ and ‘the role of
the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group to facilitate
China’s President Xi Jinping inaugurated and chaired peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan.’
the Summit. In his speech, President Xi focused on a
new development paradigm instead of security-centric President Xi announced to train 2,000 law
relations, shared prosperity, win-win-regional enforcement officers and 3,000 persons in human
cooperation within the SCO as harbinger of global resource development from member states. He offered
cooperation, good-neighborly relations, renewed to use China’s Fengyun 2 weather satellites for
commitment to fight three evils of terrorism, meteorological service to all parties. He underlined the
separatism, extremism; and the establishment of an need ‘to advance the Belt and Road cooperation,
equitable and just world order. He urged the SCO ‘accelerate regional trade facilitation through the
member states to ‘stay committed to the Shanghai implementation of the Agreement on International
Spirit, surmount difficulties, defuse risks and meet Road Transport Facilitation.’ He announced to set up
challenges’ for ‘coordinated social and economic an RMB 30 billion (4.7 billion U.S. dollars) special
progress of various countries and resolve issues lending facility within the framework of the SCO
caused by unbalanced development,’ for achieving the Inter-bank Consortium.
objectives of the SCO Charter. He stressed to pursue To broaden international outreach of the SCO,
‘sustainable security,’ reject ‘the Cold War mentality President Xi announced to develop partnership
and confrontation between blocs,’ ‘self-centered,

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networks with SCO observer states, dialogue partners, rise of China. China will soon be the world’s largest
the United Nations’ and ‘dialogue with the economy and the second military power in the next
International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and three decades. Simultaneously, Russia has risen from
other international financial institutions, for ‘resolving the ashes and its resurgence is in the offing. Russia is
hotspot issues and improving global governance. again a military match for NATO, the dominant power
in Central Asia and a critical player in the Middle East
The SCO Secretary General Rashid Alimov and in South Asia.
welcomed the decision to admit India and Pakistan
as full members of SCO and expressed the hope that Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) represents
the expansion will unveil the Organization’s unlimited a strategic initiative of China and Russia, which
potential. The Qingdao Declaration noted that ‘the covers entire Eurasia. It now represents around 45%
new quality and dynamics’ have ‘emerged in various of the world population, 25% of the world GDP and
fields of cooperation’ since India and Pakistan’s 22% geographical expanse of the entire world.
‘accession to the SCO.’ Interestingly, Hungary, Poland, Greece, Italy, and
Austria desire closer relations with Russia. Seventeen
The President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain European countries have agreed to join China’s Belt
reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to implement and Road Initiative (BRI). China’s vision to engage
SCO’s Charter and to work under the Shanghai Spirit, with Eurasia’s rim, the heartland and ultimately the
reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to act as a conduit world is gradually taking shape.
between Eurasia, China, Central and South Asia;
offered Pakistan-SCO Trade, Transit and Energy The Eurasian heartland is now under Chinese and
Corridor to pass through its territory; and willingness Russian influence after the establishment and
to connect CPEC to the six main road corridors of expansion of the SCO. The focus of strategic
SCO. He stressed to follow a comprehensive effort to competition of China and Russia with the US now is
counter drug trafficking in the SCO region. He the entire Eurasian Rim, i.e. southern Europe, Middle
reaffirmed Pakistan’s role to peace and stability in East, South Asia and Southeast Asia. The European
Afghanistan to be achieved through an Afghan-led, pillar of the American security order is in disarray.
Afghan-owned process of peace and reconciliation. The expansion of the European Union is frozen; the
He urged the SCO member states to consider the UK has exited; southern Europeans are unhappy with
establishment of a development fund to fight terrorism the single currency; Turkey is alienated from NATO
and extremism. and the EU; and mass migration from the Middle East
and Africa has revived racism and eroded European
Pakistan’s President held bilateral meetings with unity. The recent unilateral US trade tariffs, the threat
President Xi Jinping of China, President Putin of of trade war with China, the failure of G7 meeting, US
Russia, President Emomalii Rahmon of Tajikistan, withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and threatened
President Rouhani of Iran and President Mirziyoyev sanctions against Europeans doing business with
of Uzbekistan, on the sidelines of the SCO Summit. Tehran are weakening the Atlantic alliance.
They exchanged views on strengthening bilateral
relations and enhancing multifaceted cooperation in a The analysts believe that China is filling in the
number of areas under the ambit of the SCO. strategic gap emanating from the declining Atlantic
alliance. China is playing the pivotal and lead role in
Analysis & Assessment the SCO and taking the SCO Community forward to
At the beginning of the 20th century, even before the achieve goals of economic development, peace, and
First World War, Halford Mackinder had commented security in accordance with the Shanghai Spirit, which
in his treatise The Geographical Pivot of History that essentially encompasses the values of mutual trust,
whoever controls the Eurasian heartland — from the mutual respect, equality, respect for diverse
Volga to the Yangtze and the Himalayas to the Arctic civilizations and pursuit of shared development.
— would control the world.1 Nicholas Spykman China’s pragmatic vision to carve out a New World
contested the thesis and propounded that whoever Order through the CPEC and the BRI, connecting
controlled Eurasia’s rim would control the Eurasian more than 60 countries across Asia, Middle East, and
heartland and the world.2 This shift is taking place
now in the 21st century with the meteoric economic

1
Mackinder, Halford, The Geographical Pivot of History, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 170, No. 4, December 2004, pp.
298–321
2
Spykman, Nicholas, The Geography of the Peace, California: Harcourt, 1944

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Europe; is likely to transform regional and global  Fifth, Pakistan needs to reinforce its
political and economic landscape. determination to endorse the SCO’s resolve to
fight ‘terrorism’ in letter and spirit. Pakistan’s
Pakistan’s membership of the SCO is an important inclusion in the SCO will help share with
achievement in the foreign policy. It has unleashed member states its experiences of combating
multiple opportunities for Pakistan to cooperate with the worst terrorist attacks and violent
the SCO Community bilaterally and regionally. extremism in the last one and a half decade
Pakistan needs to follow a proactive foreign policy to and improvement in the security and
seize these opportunities. Following points need economic situation in Pakistan in 2016
serious consideration in this regard. onward. At the same time, it is to be noted that
 First, Pakistan needs to strengthen its three evil forces the SCO intends to fight have
economic cooperation and all-weather a strong link and roots in Afghanistan.
strategic cooperative partnership with China. Moreover, extra- regional players including
the US are still operating in Afghanistan. In
 Second, Pakistan needs to redouble its efforts this regard, SCO would require devising a
for smooth implementation of the CPEC long-term approach to deal with extra-
projects by following clearly defined terms of regional players. In this matrix, Pakistan
engagement, the optimal use of Pakistan’s could play a leading role with the help of
geostrategic location as a trade corridor, and SCO.
the Gwadar Port for greater economic
linkages with neighbouring countries and  Sixth, Iran aspires to join as a full member of
cooperation with Central Asian states. These the SCO to work in unison with the SCO
steps will strengthen cooperation with SCO member states on BRI and CPEC projects and
and contribute to overall dynamics of the to offset the impact of the recent erratic and
SCO. impulsive Trump decision to withdraw from
the Iran nuclear deal. Pakistan should join
 Third, it can be hoped that the entry of SCO member states in supporting Iran’s bid
Pakistan and India as full members of the to be admitted as a full member of the SCO.
SCO will facilitate a certain level of Pakistan also needs to improve bilateral
normalization of their relations and draw relations with Iran and persuade Iran to join
India closer to the Sino-Russian sphere. This the CPEC and BRI projects so that the idea for
is likely to be a long, painstaking and the mutual use of the Gwadar Port and the
uncertain game as the US has given a distinct Chahbahar Port is accomplished. This will
role to India as a partner to contain China’s help achieve development objectives of the
rising power in Asia. China and Russia are SCO.
endeavoring to prevent India’s complete
military alignment with the US and will strive  Seventh, Pakistan needs to develop close,
to play a mediatory role for the normalization cooperative and economic relations with
of India-Pakistan relations. While Pakistan is Russia bilaterally and regionally. This close
fully committed to peace, India is less likely collaboration will dispel mistrust and help
to change its hawkish and hegemonic bring two countries closer and contribute to
approach in the foreseeable future. peace, reconciliation, reconstruction, and
stability in Afghanistan.
 Fourth, it is interesting to note that seven
member states of the SCO, with exception of  Eighth, Pakistan may consider importing oil,
India, reaffirmed their support in the Qingdao and gas from Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.
Declaration for the implementation of the BRI Pakistan should institutionalize educational
and the development of the Eurasian linkages with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and
Economic Union. It confirms India’s Kazakhstan by offering more scholarships,
intention of non-cooperation on mega CPEC training, and capacity-building courses, and
and BRI projects due to its hegemonic though educational facilities in Pakistan’s prestigious
unfounded claims over Gilgit-Baltistan and institutions and universities.
Kashmir. It will be a complex issue for the  Ninth, Pakistan needs to develop a broader
SCO to bring India on board in BRI. political understanding with the Afghan
leadership and other important regional

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players included in SCO member states to The inclusion of Pakistan as a full member provides
achieve peace, reconciliation, reconstruction, the SCO with a link and route to South Asia and to the
and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan should Indian Ocean. Pakistan must recalibrate its foreign
also bolster its meaningful engagement with policy to a development policy to become more
Afghanistan through transit trade, relevant to the SCO and the New World Order.
reconstruction projects, economic assistance, Pakistan enjoys an important geostrategic location. It
education and training cum capacity-building has been blessed with enormous natural resources and
courses. The realization of SCO vision of very hard working people. By joining SCO, Pakistan
connectivity, cooperation, and development could contribute to peaceful relations with neighbors
lies in durable peace in Afghanistan. as well as peace, security, stability, and development
of the SCO region. Simultaneously, Pakistan must
CONCLUSION sync its engagement with the SCO with its internal
The SCO has emerged as an important regional reforms.
alliance and international organization. China, along Pakistan’s inclusion in the SCO has dispelled the
with its SCO partners, is committed to constructing a perception that Pakistan is isolated internationally in
New World Order encompassing a multi-polar world. the wake of horrendous terrorist attacks in the last one
The BRI, of which CPEC is an integral part, is a and a half decade. Pakistan can share with SCO
manifestation of this New World Oder. The political member states its experiences in combatting terrorism
clout and economic rise of China will serve as an and extremism.
anchor of global peace, global development,
international justice, prosperity, stability, win-win- Finally, Pakistan must consciously play its robust and
cooperation and economic development in the SCO constructive role in the SCO. It will enable Pakistan to
region and beyond. It is hard to imagine building actualize the vision of the founding fathers of
global and regional security architecture without the Pakistan, Dr. Allama Mohammad Iqbal and the
SCO. Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, about the
resurgence of Asia and repositioning of Pakistan as
The final shape of the New World Order will, ‘pivot of the world placed on the frontiers around
however, depend heavily on the evolution of the which the future of the world will revolve.’
relationship between China and the US. Their national
interests can be served more by cooperation than It is hard to imagine building global and regional
confrontation. Their strategic confrontation could lead security architecture and economic development
to instability in several regions but their cooperation paradigm without the SCO. The 18th SCO Summit has
could accelerate trade, investment, global growth and set the ground and agenda on the basis of China’s
prosperity in the Eurasian heartland, its Rim and economic and political clout, CPEC and BRI as well
beyond. Only time will prove these analyses coming as enormous natural resources in the SCO region for
true or otherwise. But for the time being, the establishing a New World Order.
pendulum is swinging in favor of the SCO.

Prepared by:
Ambassador (R) Tajammul Altaf
Senior Research Associate,
Institute of Policy Studies (IPS),
Islamabad.

For queries:
Syed Nadeem Farhat, Senior Research Coordinator,
nadeem@ips.net.pk | www.ips.org.pk

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