Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari will seek full membership for Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) during the regional grouping's upcoming meeting in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana this week, officials said on Monday.
Pakistan currently has observer status in the SCO and Zardari will seek full membership of the organisation during the 10th summit of the grouping beginning June 15, the officials said.
Zardari will travel to Astana on Tuesday to attend the summit which is expected to take up issues related to regional and global peace and security and cooperation in economic development.
SCO leaders will devise a joint strategy to tackle terrorism, extremism, organised crime and narcotics.
Zardari's participation in the summit "signals the importance Pakistan attaches to the SCO and our keen interest in working the regional development agenda, which includes building commerce and trade facilities, banking cooperation, energy transaction and corporate sector interactions", Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said.
The SCO, founded in 2001 in Shanghai, comprises China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia have observer status, while Belarus and Sri Lanka are ranked as dialogue partners.
Both India and Pakistan became observers in 2002. India, Pakistan and Iran applied for full membership and the issue has been discussed within the SCO.
In a media interaction earlier this month, SCO Secretary General Muratbek Imanaliev said the grouping's leadership will begin talks with Pakistan, India and Iran for full membership after a memorandum is passed at the summit on June 15.
"The summit will pass a memorandum on the obligations of membership applicants, after which we can start negotiations with the nations applying to join the SCO," he said.
During the summit in Astana, member states will map out a blueprint for the organisation for the next decade.