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India, Pakistan cannot bring their bickering to SCO, say experts

The internal power dynamics of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will ensure that new members India and Pakistan aren’t allowed to bring their bilateral problems to SCO

india Updated: Jun 08, 2018 19:13 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Qiangdao
SCO,India,Pakistan
India Pakistan flags seen during the 2nd day of world culture Festival at Yamuna River Bank in New Delhi, India, on Saturday, March 12, 2016. (HT File Photo)

The internal power dynamics of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will ensure that new members India and Pakistan aren’t allowed to bring their bilateral problems to the grouping and disrupt its functioning, leading Chinese experts said on Friday.

With two giants, China and Russia, at the helm, the eight-member SCO will not be become “dysfunctional” like the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), where India is by far the dominant partner, the experts said.

“Saarc was not very successful because India was the dominant partner as the biggest power in the region. But India and Pakistan in SCO will be different. The power dynamics are different. India will not be the dominant partner and Pakistan will be in a more equal position,” said Lu Yang, a leading South Asian scholar at Tsinghua University.

The SCO charter encourages member states to settle disputes, said Zhang Henglong, vice-director of Shanghai-based Public Diplomacy Institute of the SCO.

“The SCO charter, signed on June 7, 2002, is the fundamental organisational principle of SCO. The charter clearly states that there will be ‘mutual respect of sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity of States and inviolability of State borders, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, non-use of force or threat of its use in international relations, seeking no unilateral military superiority in adjacent areas’ and ‘peaceful settlement of disputes between the member States’,” Henglong said. “These principles can help resolve conflicts within the SCO framework.”

The inclusion of India and Pakistan does complicate security ties between the eight member states, said Li Li, senior fellow at Institute for International Relations in Tsinghua University.

Due to the complexity of security relations between members after India and Pakistan joined SCO last year, it will take some time for the bloc to find an adapted format to promote security cooperation. But SCO provides chances for India and Pakistan to engage with each other, such as the upcoming SCO joint military exercise. “It will be helpful and beneficial to improving mutual trust,” Li said.

What about differences between India and China over the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), President Xi Jinping’s legacy connectivity project? “The BRI is only a name. If we don’t think about the name and look at the essence of cooperation, that will be more important,” Lu said.

Henglong said India brings more to the SCO table than just differences and disputes.

First Published: Jun 08, 2018 19:12 IST