SCO Can Free Pakistan From West’s Stranglehold
June 4, 2012
China and Russia can free us of the US
Pakistan is looking to the East for help. We are pinning our hopes on regional cooperation through blocs such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). This bloc boasts support from two major regional powers – Russia and China.
Why should we support this alliance, one might ask.
To them, I would like to state simply, we need this to free ourselves from the stranglehold of the US.
We have numerous reasons to support this alliance. For instance, despite all cooperation and the consequent suffering, Pakistan continues to face immense pressure from America. The recent episode of this series of pressures came when Pakistan suspended the Nato supply lines as a backlash to the Salala checkpost attack on November 26, 2011. This suspension led to threats of slashing civil military aid to the country from the US Congressmen and policy makers.
This scared Pakistan, because the US is our life-line. It provides us with much-needed money, and we remain at their beck and call due to this unfortunate reality.
There is increasing pressure on Pakistan by the United States and several other countries towards combating terrorism, as well as in terms of the settlement of the Afghan crisis.
Washington uses financial instruments, mainly financial aid, and military threats in the form of drone attacks to keep us dancing to their tune. It has even launched a mass media campaign against Islamabad, accusing Pakistan of supporting terror.
Pakistan’s possible membership in the SCO presents a rewarding opportunity for us to finally obtain freedom from this mounting pressure. Partnership with super-powers like China and Russia can reduce Pakistan’s dependence on the US and its Western allies. Furthermore, increased cooperation with these aforementioned regional powers can also help to lower our dependency on US financial aid – a tool used to keep Pakistan within the clutches of the US.
Eastern cooperation can pave the way for opening numerous corridors of progress for Pakistan as well as other South Asian states – mainly India and Afghanistan. The alliance can open ways for exporting energy from energy-rich countries such as Russia, Turkmenistan and Iran to energy-scarce states such as Pakistan and India.
Energy-deficient countries can greatly benefit from this increased regional cooperation. One such example is the trans-Afghan pipeline, or TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India), which surely can help in overcoming some part of the energy shortfall in Pakistan and India.
In order to achieve these goals and gain a dividend from the SCO, Pakistan needs to participate actively in the activities of the SCO in the areas of combating terrorism, drug trafficking and the Afghan settlement. Drug trafficking has been a major area of concern for Moscow. It claims that it is the negligence of coalition forces in tackling the issue which has led to more drugs seeping into Russia. Thus, participation and cooperation will help to expedite the process of obtaining full membership in the organisation for Pakistan.
Interaction with the SCO will create real preconditions for countries to engage in large-scale regional development programmes, particularly in the energy, transport and information spheres. This will eventually lead to an improvement in areas of the economy and the country’s security, strengthening its impact in the region.
Russia and the Central Asian countries have supported Pakistan’s desire to become a full member of the organisation, while China has refrained from doing so. Sergei Lavrov, the acting Russian Foreign Minister, in a recent SCO meeting pushed for India’s and Pakistan’s membership in the SCO, coupled with more involvement in the Afghan security situation in a post-Nato withdrawal scenario.
Pakistan must convince Beijing that Islamabad’s full participation in the organisation will be useful in addressing major regional issues. Pakistan must seize the moment and exploit regional energy resources by partnering with Russia, China and India for energy and commercial trade.
Let’s free ourselves from the hold of the West by embracing our friends in the East.
News Network International
June 3, 2012
SCO ballast for regional peace, stability: Masood Khan
BEIJING: The Pakistani Ambassador to China sang the praises of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), saying the organization works as a ballast for peace, security and stability in the region.
Masood Khan was speaking ahead of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to China, where he will attend the SCO leaders’ summit, next week.
“It is not a security organization in the traditional sense and has no military arm,” Khan said. However, the SCO has worked hard to ensure security and fight against transnational crime, and the “three evil forces” of terrorism, separatism and extremism by tackling the root causes through promoting economic development, economic cooperation, infrastructure development, and raising the people’s standard of living collectively, he said.
Khan added that the performance of the SCO over the past decade has been “outstanding” and has become a new paradigm and a new model for regional cooperation.
Speaking of his country’s role within the SCO, Khan explained that Pakistan has been an observer state since 2005 and has been actively participating in various conferences and events organized by the body.
He also promised Pakistan would play a “very constructive and effective” role in the organization and would devote all its energy to building peace. He said Pakistan has expressed its strong desire to become a full member and submitted the application.
The ambassador also talked about Pakistan’s relationship with China and described China as Pakistan’s “trusted strategic partner.”
Pakistan is satisfied with the continued flow of high-level exchanges between the two countries, and will try to further its economic cooperation with China in areas such as energy, infrastructure and agriculture, according to Khan.
He also urged the two nations to step up their people-to-people exchanges, especially among the younger generation to promote mutual understanding between the two countries. He said that learning Chinese is becoming very popular in Pakistan, where there is also growing demand for more Confucius Institutes.
“Recently, China’s ministry of education has approved setting up a Confucius Institute in Karachi University… I hope there will be more of such institutes to promote understanding of Chinese culture and help people learn the Chinese language,” he added.
The SCO was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001, and currently has six full members including China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan and India are its four observer states.