The 19th Summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) took place at the most crucial time of contemporary world. The Bishkek Declaration called for greater cooperation among member countries of SCO with emphases against three evils; the extremism, terrorism and separatism. Among all SCO member states, Pakistan has the distinction of playing an unparalleled role against all these evils. Prime Minister Imran Khan gave a Pakistani perspective for the future of SCO, with a vision of ‘cooperation that rejects confrontation, and advances the imperatives of peaceful co-existence at the regional and international levels.’ Indeed, peace is the most needed aspect for each state, at regional level as well as at global level.
Today, SCO has almost half of the global population, 25 % of world’s GDP and about 80% of Eurasian landmass. By virtue of its geopolitical location, Pakistan is at the vicinity of world’s major economies and emerging regional markets. Besides, it occupies a strategic location viz-a viz great powers and their strategic interests. Therefore, “Pakistan can utilize economic tools like trade, energy, and investment, infrastructure development to further its geopolitical and geo-economic objectives in a befitting manner. For Pakistan, the SCO is the most important cooperative forum. Through this forum, Pakistan can seek economic assistance from major regional powers to prosper through trade and proper investment. SCO, being an emerging security bloc, can prove greatly helpful for Pakistan in helping it from traditional and non-traditional threats.
In order to establish international peace, Pakistan has played a great role by defeating terrorism. Since SCO Charter is based on enhancement of comprehensive cooperation among its member countries. The organization further aims to strengthen peace by ensuring regional security and stability for attaining multi-polarity at political level and economic prosperity at social and state level while accruing all the benefits of globalization. This was especially highlighted by Chinese President Mr Xi Jinping at Bishkek, once he called for a win-win approach in the changing international landscape. President Xi, urged the SCO members to have a keen appreciation of the trend toward world multi-polarization and economic globalization, search for wisdom in the Shanghai Spirit and draw strength from unity and cooperation so as to build a closer community with a shared future for the organization.
Pakistan believes in peace and cooperative relationship with its neighbours. In this regard, it fits into the principal objective of SCO which calls for peace not the war and cooperation not the conflict. There are many commonalties in SCO Charter and the foreign policy of Pakistan. With its permanent membership of SCO geopolitically, Pakistan has assumed a crucial position for this forum. Pakistani vision for SCO also outlined the galvanization of Shanghai Spirit to strengthen the mandate of forum while reducing the ‘risks of conflict, fostering confidence, and promoting stability.’ In his eight point’s proposals, Prime Minister Imran also suggested regional trade in local currencies, which boost the regionalism and economic prosperity. For an efficient trade, there is a need for regional connectivity through development of infrastructure and cultural affinity. Food and health security is yet another area which Pakistan proposed for enhancing cooperation among SCO members.
The Bishkek Summit of SCO took place at the most critical time of contemporary world. Whereas the Bishkek Declaration called for greater cooperation among member countries of SCO, the Iranian President, Mr Hassan Rohani expressed his serious concerns over the US military deployment in the Persian Gulf, posing threat not only to Iran but to entire region. The situation in this region is getting bad to worst with each passing day. Lately US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged Iran for an attack on two commercial tankers, carrying oil for Japan and Norway under US escort. Iranian side deny this blame, considering it a US strategy for showing its military muscles. President Rohani clearly hinted that, under President Trump, US is responsible for a “plague of unilateralism that is challenging the international community more than ever.”
While outlining the opportunities for Pakistan as a member of SCO, there is a requirement to quantify them as per the objectives and charter of the organization. Pakistan has the opportunity to get the support of all SCO members, in its drive against the terrorism. Rather, the SCO members are fully cognizant of the contribution and sacrifices, Pakistan has rendered for the global peace and security by combating terrorism. Indeed, the SCO Charter endorses the vision of founding father of Pakistan and further provides a guideline for a value-added performance from the platform of SCO. Since SCO aims at: strengthening mutual trust, friendship and good neighbourliness between the member States, so are foreign policy objectives of Pakistan. Pakistan faces security challenges from its neighbourhood on account of CPEC and its close relations with China. Besides, the unresolved disputes between India and Pakistan, especially Kashmir dispute has kept both countries on the path of rivalry. In order to dislodge the CPEC, India is promoting separatism, extremism and terrorism in different parts of Pakistan, which is against the basic spirit of SCO. As emphasized by Prime Minister Imran Khan during 19th SCO Summit, Pakistan is not in favour of an arms race, but it desires other regional countries like India to cooperate for promotion of peace and regional stability in South Asia and broader SCO region.