Pakistan and India get permanent SCO membership


Russian President Putin also announces that Belarus would obtain observer status while Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal would be welcomed as ‘dialogue partners’

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday that Pakistan and India will join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as permanent members, a group dominated by Russia and China which also includes former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

Russia sees the organisation, expanding for the first time since its creation in 2001, as a counterweight to Western alliances.

Putin opened the annual summit by announcing the acceptance of Pakistan and India as members. He said Belarus would obtain observer status, joining Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia, while Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal would be welcomed as “dialogue partners”.

The SCO leaders expressed hope that Iran also would soon become a member, but said Tehran first needed to reach an international agreement on curbing its nuclear program.

Putin said some of the greatest security threats facing the region emanated from Afghanistan, noting the increased activity of the self-styled Islamic State group. He said the leaders agreed to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation and to work together to fight drug trafficking from Afghanistan.

“It is obvious that together we can more effectively resist crisis events in the world economy and finance, more easily overcome restrictions and barriers of various kinds,” Putin said while talking about plans to deepen economic and trade ties.

Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressed the SCO summit during which he said that the SCO partners have an ambitious agenda to achieve.

“We must ensure regional stability and further economic integration to realise our goals. We must work together to mitigate differences, resolve outstanding disputes and create a favourable environment for the betterment of our peoples. This is how the true Shanghai spirit will be fully realised.”