The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a political, economic, and security alliance that was established in 2001. The organisation currently includes China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan as member states.
The main objectives of the organisation include strengthening mutual trust and good-neighbourliness among member states, promoting cooperation in politics, trade, and culture, and maintaining regional peace and stability.
India and Pakistan were both granted full membership in the SCO in 2017, which marked a significant development in the organisation’s expansion and a potential opportunity for the two nations to improve their relationship through cooperation in the regional context.
However, the relationship between India and Pakistan has been complicated for decades and is often marked by tension and conflict, particularly over the issue of the disputed region of Kashmir.
India is currently set to host the upcoming SCO Film festival in Mumbai later this month.
All other countries of the SCO have sent their entries, Pakistan is the only country that did not send any film for screening in the group’s third such film festival.
Later this year, India is set to host the SCO meeting of Foreign Ministers’ which is scheduled to be held in Goa from May 4-5. For that SCO event India has cordially invited the likes of Pakistan and China as well.
The invitation includes invites to the new foreign minister of China Qin Gang and Pakistani foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto.
It is also worth noting that India and Pakistan have a complicated relationship and any meeting between the two countries would be closely watched by the international community.
India took over the chairmanship of the 9-member mega grouping in September of last year and will be holding key ministerial meetings and the summit this year.
However, there were no issues during the first meeting of the Council of National Coordinators of SCO members which was held here from October 17 to 20 last year. It helped that the meet was arranged in hybrid form which meant that the Pakistani delegate skipped travelling to India.
At a time in 2020 when there was no ceasefire on the LoC and Indo-Pak ties were testy, an SCO meeting did see sparks fly. At a virtual meeting of SCO National Security Advisers, the Pakistani representative pointedly hung a map that incorrectly depicted its boundaries from India’s point of view, leading to a symbolic walkout by NSA Ajit Doval.
A top official in an interview said that “India desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan. India’s consistent position is that issues, if any, between India and Pakistan should be resolved bilaterally and peacefully, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence.
It has been made clear that India will not compromise on issues relating to national security and will take firm and decisive steps to deal with all attempts to undermine India’s security and territorial integrity.”
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