Lahore, March 11, 2015 (PPI-OT): Participation of Pakistan as a permanent member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization in this year of Pak-China Friendship (2015) would prove to be a milestone in creating South-South integration through regional connectivity.
Shah Faisal Afridi, President Pak-China joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the economic integration had become an increasingly large part of the SCO agenda that had magnified significance of Pakistan for being the major partner in Silk Road Economic Belt. Similarly, the development of Gwadar Port, emerging as an energy and trade corridor for SCO countries, will also add value in the role of Pakistan in future economic development of the region, he said.
Faisal Afridi stated that “SCO has created a new model of international relations — partnership instead of alliance.” He described SCO as “fully in tune with the realities and requirements of the 21st century” — the model for future international relationships.
He mentioned that as this is going to be an Asian Century, “the regional and world powers couldn’t ignore Pakistan in any kind of framework that places a focus on peace and development within the geographical arena of SCO” added Afridi.
He said that Pakistan as an observer state of SCO had been playing a very important role and expressed the hope that as a full member of the SCO, Pakistan would be able to play a proactive role in the organization. He said that SCO could not be undermined in this complex world order as it coveres 60 percent of the total Eurasian landmass and nations having world’s largest energy resources.
He informed that the current requirements for joining SCO requires potential members to have observer status in the SCO, which would limit the list of candidates to Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan. Of these, India, Iran, and Pakistan have been tapped for the full membership; the process for which will be completed before the SCO summit-2015.
Mr. Faisal Aridi negated the Western view about SCO as a ―Eastern NATO and argued that though SCO members had military cooperation but they did not have a collective army.
While evaluating Pakistan‘s quest for full membership, he argued that Pakistan had the requisite credentials -constructive role in Afghanistan; determined fight against forces of terrorism, extremism and separatism; a promising and prospective energy and trade corridor for the region; historical and cultural ties with Central Asian Republics; close strategic and economic ties with China and growing relations with Russia.–all supported Pakistan‘s claim to full membership of SCO.
According to Faisal Afridi extending SCO membership to Pakistan will help facilitate China’s plan to revive its role as a regional trade hub. This will also aid China’s Great Western Development Strategy, which was launched in 2000. “By developing an intricate oil, gas, railway, road, economic and cultural network with other Asian states, China will place itself at a stronger footing to lead in the Asian century” said Afridi.
He was confident that membership of the SCO would also help Pakistan in resolving its political disputes, as it had adopted consensus-based decision making mechanism ensuring non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. He hoped that strengthening of SCO with Pakistan would not just enhance trade opportunities but would discourage an arms race in South Asia.
Faisal Afridi suggested that at present SCO members need to take a two-track approach to make it a successful regional grouping. At the macro level, he said, it must forge a common vision and mutual trust with similar groupings such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization. At a micro level, bilateral and regional issues between member states need to be addressed, he added.
For more information, contact:
Wardah Ali Gohar
Pakistan China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI)
Mega Tower, 309 – 6th Floor,
Main Boulevard, Gulberg II,
Lahore, Punjab – Pakistan
Tel: +92-42-35777460-02, +92-42-37032203, +92-42-35874353