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Pakistan, India to be full members of SCO

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]he 2017 annual Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be held on 7-8 June, in Astana, Kazakhstan. Beijing-headquartered SCO, which focuses mostly on security-related issues such as counter-terrorism cooperation in Central Asia, is comprised of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as full members. Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have “observer” status.

Its 2015 summit in Ufa in Russia had formally adopted a resolution which started the procedures to admit India and Pakistan into the security grouping.

Pakistan is set to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in its upcoming session in Astana, Kazakhstan which starts June 8. In a statement released to the media, the Foreign Office (FO) has stated that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will participate in the 17th meeting of the Heads of State Council (HoSC) of the SCO on June 8-9 in Kazakhstan. While there, the PM will hold bilateral meetings with other leaders on the sidelines of the summit. PM Sharif will also attend the inauguration ceremony of the International Expo 2017, which will host 100 participating countries, including Pakistan.

India as South Asia’s largest economy is also set to be included in the SCO in the upcoming Summit in Astana. In becoming full members of the SCO, Pakistan and India will join the ranks of current members Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Pakistan, which has been an observer at the SCO since 2005, applied for a permanent membership in 2010. According to the FO spokesperson, “The decision, in principle, to give membership to Pakistan was taken by the SCO Heads of States in a meeting held in Ufa, Russia, in 2015”. In the press release, the FO stated that Pakistan had been actively participating in the organization’s activities as an observer and that it fully subscribes to the “Shanghai Spirit”.

The statement further added that Pakistan shares “historical and cultural links, as well as strong economic and strategic complementarities” with members of the SCO. It stated that the SCO will help Pakistan advance its interests regional peace, stability and development and its support for regional cooperation against terrorism and extremism.

The annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which took place in Tashkent on Jun 30, 2016, celebrated the 15-year history of this organization. The six SCO member states – Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – evaluated the successes that this organization has achieved in the past decade and a half, and determined the future format of its work.

The summit in 2017 will have more two participants, for a total of eight, after India and Pakistan officially join the organization. In Tashkent, these two countries signed a memorandum of commitment to the SCO – the last documents before becoming full-fledged members. At the summit, he warned the countries from engaging in confrontations with each other, and encouraged maintaining the non-aligned status of the organization. The talks were difficult, but in the end, SCO managed to overcome all difficulties and agreed on granting membership to the new countries. However, the compromise does not mean that the existing contradictions between New Delhi and Islamabad would not be transferred to the SCO platform.

Central Asian countries, which had declared their region a nuclear-free zone, will have a difficult time balancing inside such a composition. It is clear that the expansion of the SCO will now move regional problems into the background. The majority of SCO member states (with the exceptions of China and Uzbekistan), are also part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), where collective efforts are being undertaken to try and solve regional security problems. Russia is trying to win over Central Asian members to its side, just as China is trying to do.

Now enjoying such status in the SCO are Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia. The greatest chances of joining are given to Iran, whose interests in the organization are actively being promoted by Russia. Tashkent was especially cautious when it came to the idea of membership for Afghanistan, a country where the main security threats and risks in Central Asia originate.

Two years after the summit in Ufa, the Central Asian countries that had previously doubted the wisdom of expanding the SCO with two other South Asian countries that are in constant conflict with each other, seemed to have come around to the idea. The president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, who criticized the expansion of the SCO with two unofficial nuclear powers, seemed more restrained this year.

For the first 15 years, the SCO has primarily focused on economic and security issues. Going forward, the work of the SCO will continue in an expanded format. India and Pakistan will become full members of the SCO now , a move that was finally decided at the Tashkent Summit. In the summit’s final declaration, dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the organization, the participating countries agreed to assist each other during economic crises, and to continue in their joint efforts in fighting extremism.

Economic development issues were also paramount on the agenda of the Astana Summit. SCO leaders have complained that very often, uneven economic development is leading to the slow implementation of joint projects, particularly in trade and construction of transport infrastructure spheres. In connection with this, the countries have pledged to help each other in times of economic crisis. To accelerate the construction of regional transport infrastructure, Putin suggested that SCO countries that are not members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) join the Russian-Chinese cooperation projects involving the EAEU and the Silk Road Economic Belt. “Connecting all SCO member states, as well as CIS countries, to these integration processes, would be a prelude to the formation of a large Eurasian Partnership,” said Putin. However, the experts do not think much of the potential for economic cooperation within the SCO framework. Uzbekistan said that Tashkent has always looked at the SCO platform as a means for establishing bilateral cooperation on security issues, rather than economic ones.

At the SCO summit in Tashkent, they also signed an Action Plan for the implementation of Development Strategies for the SCO until 2025, where participating countries have identified their directions of development in the coming years. These followed the outlines of the development strategies for the SCO that the participating countries adopted at last summit in Ufa.

China hoped the admission of India and Pakistan into the Beijing-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) security grouping will contribute to security and stability in the region. “Both India and Pakistan are China’s important neighbours and important countries in South Asia. China hopes that India and Pakistan can enhance mutual trust and improve relations through more dialogues. This is conducive to not only the two countries themselves, but also to regional prosperity and development.”

With nuclear India and Pakistan’s membership, the SCO will include countries encompassing over 40% of the world’s population. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will continue dealing mainly with security and economic issues, although there are doubts about how effective it will be once India and Pakistan join in 2017.

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South Asia

COVID-19 pandemic and positives/negatives of the Pakistani government’s policy towards it

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The covid-19 erupt from Wuhan in December 2019. The first case in Pakistan was observed on February 26th, 2020.It is considered a global pandemic because of its contagious nature. It has engulfed many lives and economies. Whereas Pakistan, despite its socioeconomic and political problems, has tackled covid-19 efficiently so far. Objectives of these policies were to contain and mitigate the spread of covid-19. Pakistan made effective policies to hamper the unfurling nature of covid-19. It was praised by the director-general of WHO and he mentioned it as a lesson for the rest of the world. The upshots of the policies on its citizens were both positive and negative, but they helped a lot in sailing through covid-19.

Covid-19 has accentuated the inadequacy of the health sector. However, to combat covid-19, RFCC assists hospitals to evolve their capacities to provide treatments. Many hotels and motels were converted into quarantine centers. Number of ventilators, gears, beds, and testing capability has been increased. Pakistan got a loan of $760M to improve its medical handling. These policies seem effective as they are the major line to combat covid-19. Number of staff has also increased. These policies play a crucial role in containing Corona virus but due to lack of awareness, many people didn’t get tested. Overall, it played a positive role.

“Out of 220M population, 25% are living below the poverty line and 30% live in grave poverty,” said the PM Imran khan. Therefore, containing the poverty and retaining the economy is an arduous task. For this purpose, the Ehsas program was launched with a stipend money of Rs.12000 for the vulnerable. Employees wouldbe paid a salary during complete lock-down. The government displayed leniency in paying taxes to accelerate the investment. The banks remained open during the nationwide lock-down. However, an in-depth analysis reveals that Ehsas program didn’t prove effective due to the absence of a proper tracking system. The poor and needy people in rural areas were not affable with the technology, therefore they were unable to enroll in this program.

Moreover, the government’s policy of smart lockdown cannot be ignored. It started in April, targeting the disease hotspots. The purpose of this policy was to provide a breathing space to the most vulnerable section of the society. Because nationwide lock-down was threatening food security. Smart lock-down technology played a crucial role and made Pakistan distinctive around the world.

To dampen the adverse effects of covid-19 on society, section 144 was implemented to avoid public gathering. According to the health ministry “home quarantine, zoning of hospitals, and social distancing should be in the nitty-gritty of the policy.” They imposed a ban on air traffic and started screening at the airports for international travellers these measures proved beneficial to some extent. But unfortunately the government couldn’t ensure the SOPs.

In a nutshell, the aforementioned account enables a worthy conclusion that Pakistan has managed to contain the devastating effect of covid-19, however, the danger is not over yet. The second wave of covid-19 has started globally which can overturn the successful results other way round. Therefore, some stringent action should be taken to make the policy of containment of covid-19 more effective that is only possible if there is a consensus between the federal and provincial governments. The only way to limit the dangers of the virus is to come up with the unified and all inclusive national plans.

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Who pulls the strings of the government of India?

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While talking to a Cornell college professor, Rahul Gandhi lamented (March 2, 2021) that the RSS was making use of its educational institutions to propagate its tunnel vision (NewsMatters, March 6, 2021). `Wherefrom money comes to run hundreds of thousands of schools’, he asked.

The RSS, founded in 1925, is not only distorting history, and polluting syllabi but also compelling the BJP government to appoint its nominees to key posts whether academic or political.

The RSS’s rationale is that it is their government. As such, they have every right  to make appointments to all political and non-political posts and revise syllabus according to their own version of history.

A bird’s-eye view of appointments

Besides president Kovind Nath, a dalit, and Hindu-monk Yogi Adityanath, several parcharaks (apostles) were nominated for appointment as chief ministers, governors and cabinet ministers. The nominees included ML Khattar, chief minister of Haryana, Trivendra Singh Rawat, chief minister of Uttarakhand, Devandar Fadnavis (Maharashtra), and Ram Thakur (Himachal Pradesh).

The veterans appointed as governors included Balramji Das Tandan (Chhattisgarh), Ram Naik (UP), Om Prakash Kohli (Gujarat), Keshri Nath Tripathi (West Bengal), Kalyan Singh (Rajasthan), Vidya Saga Rao (Maharashtra), Vaju Bhai Bhala (Karnataka), Padmanabha  Acharya (Nagaland), Jagdish Mukti (Assam) and Tathaghat Roy (Tripura) (Source: Aryana P. Chatterji, Thomas Blom Hansen, and Christophe Jaffrelot (eds), Majoritarian State).

Dr, Lokesh Chandra was made president of Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Ram Bahadur Roy, former ABVP organizing secretary who was jailed during Indira-Gandhi- imposed emergency was appointed to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts. Baldev Sharma, former editor of the RSS’s Hindi mouth-piece Panchjanya, was appointed chairman of the national Book Trust. Shakti Sanha, private secretary to prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was rewarded with appointment of Director of Nehru Memorial and Library. The memorial was the hub of Nehru-Gandhi legacy. A small-time actor Gajendra Chauhan was appointed Chairman of the Films and Television Institute of India. Hindu Nationalist Anupam Kher was appointed head of India’s Board of Film Certification.

Realising that educational institutions are key agents for ideological dissemination, the RSS thrust its nominees as vice chancellors and directors in universities and cultural institutions of higher learning.

RSS’s version of history

A distorted version is taught in RSS-run Vidya Bharti schools. Hindu caste system is well delineated in Rig Veda, Manusmriti and Bhagavad Gita. But, the RSS preaches that the Muslim Turks initiated the untouchability. Turks introduced commodes in India. “Hindus who refused to convert to Islam were forced to clean them. And, thus they became untouchable.”

Conscription power

While addressing a large gathering at Muzaffarpur, Bhagwat said, `RSS volunteers were so disciplined that they could be mobilized in a matter of days should the constitution and laws of the country so demand’. Many senior retired armed forces officers including former army chief General VK Singh have joined the RSS.

Inference

Bhagwat’s bonhomie with politicians, media, judiciary, industry, religious leaders and civil society reflects that the RSS would continue to keep the Modi government under its Octopus claw. Also it is keen to extend its influence in political, societal and non- governmental spheres. To deepen its roots, the RSS has initiated  programmes like Family Awakening (parivar prabodhan),Village Development (grama vikas), and Social Harmony (samara satta). 

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Cease-Fire Review: A ray of hope

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Pre-Negotiations are very much crucial to achieve the state of “Negociation Continuelle” (continuous negotiations) the only way due to which conflicting parties go for sustained mode of talks.  On 25th February Director Generals of military operations (DGMO’s) of India and Pakistan contacted with each other to review cease fire agreement, on line of control (LOC), which was held back in 2003.  Both States reaffirmed cease fire agreement and to restart weekly hotline contact at DGMO’s level. The agreement was largely violated by both states for several times and they were accusing each other for violations. But one thing is common that on both sides Kashmiris are suffering, they are raising their children in an environment of fear and severe violence. India and Pakistan are both nuclear capable states of South Asian region and are considered as the custodian of regional peace and stability. And without shadow of a doubt regional peace and security is a collective responsibility of the responsible states. Pakistan and India are the main conflicting parties of South Asian region and Kashmir is the bone of contention between them. Kashmir has been a question of integrity for both States. The Line of control also known as working boundary, divides Indian Kashmir from Pakistani Kashmir. There are several resolutions have been passed by the UN General Assembly to address the Kashmir issue but never implemented. UN wants to solve this issue according to the hopes of Kashmiris. The initiation of bilateral talks in the present outrageous environment is not less than a blessing in disguise and it will be fruitful for all the stakeholders; India, Pakistan and Kashmiris as well. This peaceful move from Pakistan and India is highly appreciated globally because Kashmiri diaspora is present worldwide and they are very much concerned with future of their homeland.

Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi, with his hostile ideology of “Akhand Bharat” assumed office in 2014. His political adventurism based on jingoistic-cum-hawkish policies dragged India State to the verge of staunch illiberalism where identity crisis burst up, which is more lethal than previously existing class crisis. Every community including lower class Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs etc. all are vulnerable to the identity crisis.  On 30th May 2019, he sworn for his second tenure as prime minister of the world’s so called largest democracy. He came with another adventurous mandate and the first demonstration took place when he suspended special status of Kashmir and abrogated articles 370 and 35A. His ideology is regarded as Nazi-inspired ideology because in contemporary scenario only RSS community and other proponents of Hindutva are only considered as “Real Hindustani”. All minorities are suffering in India because their basic living rights are kept aside. The ongoing farmer’s protests shook the foundations of the state, hundreds of thousands of farmers rushed to the Delhi against the anti-famer laws passed by Indian Parliament.

In India Separatist movements are getting pace; minorities are unsatisfied with governing approach of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reuined the secular and democratic face of India. On the other hand, Foreign policy of India is facing severe challenges because PM Narendra Modi’s approach is hostile based on hatred and prejudice. These attributes are fatal for State’s reputation at foreign lands; the recent India-China standoff was just a teaser of BJP’s whole story related to foreign relations. In addition to this, Economic goal of 2025 of India is again became a distant dream just because of belligerent policies of ruling regime.

In contemporary scenario if we look towards India, only Modi-Media nexus will be seen. But in reality the situation is getting worse day by day. The review of cease fire agreement, offered by India, is a positive step towards the regional peace. It is appreciated by both civil and military administrations of both states. When PM Imran Khan assumed office he offered dialogue to his Indian counter-part but Indian Premier refused to go for any sort of talks. India always took a position that to initiate talks first of all, Pakistan has to stop the cross-border terrorism. Both terrorism and talks can never go side by side, this Indian claim is not based on empirical evidences because Pakistan has been facing menace of terrorism  since 2001 and leaving no stone unturned to root out terrorism and safe havens for terrorists.

Currently, India is facing deep internal and external challenges. It is in the interest of India to have peace talks with Pakistan. On the other hand, it is a ripe moment for Pakistan to act decisively because it is the only time when India can review its decision of 5th August 2019.Moreover, it is a ray of hope to establish peace in entire region. This is the time when bi-lateral diplomacy can turn the traditional regional political dynamics. Both states are facing same problems when it comes to poverty, climate change, social security and the list goes on. The realm of these talks should expand and concern parties have to include economic and political regimes in front of each other otherwise momentum of talks will be lost. Regional connectivity is important to have eternal peace, Pakistan and India should review SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) that would provide basis for economic, cultural as well as political connectivity. Major Powers should also play their important role because world cannot afford rivalry between two nuclear states. Now, America is under a democrat President, and they should check every internal and external move of their Strategic and defense ally in Asia-Pacific region. Negotiations between India and Pakistan are in the interest of all other regional and extra-regional actors. Both states should adopt flexible approach while discussing the core issues and should avoid blame game. It will enhance the chances of continuous negotiation which is a pre-requisite for peace and progress.

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