Pakistan and India have been given the status of full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at its summit meeting in Kazakh capital of Astana on Friday.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in his inaugural speech during the 17th SCO summit welcomed Pakistan as full member of the organisation.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, addressing the summit, said, “The SCO goals resonate with Pakistan’s national ethos, and so do the core values of the Shanghai spirit and the SCO charter with our own quest for peaceful neighbourhood.”
The premier welcomed a proposal made by Chinese President Xi Jinping on a five-year treaty for good neighbourliness among SCO members, and thanked the founding members including China, Russia and others for their staunch support to Pakistan.
“As leaders, we should leave a legacy of peace and amity for our future generations, not a toxic harvest of conflict and animosity. Instead of talking about counter-weights and containment, let us create shared spaces for all,” PM Nawaz urged SCO heads of state.
He added that in the coming decades, the SCO, which has emerged as a ‘sheet anchor’ for regional stability would serve as a strong link between Asia Pacific, East Asia, West Asia and the Atlantic region.
“It is destined to become a cornerstone of global politics and economics, with economics gaining primacy,” PM Nawaz said.
“The SCO gives us a powerful platform for partnerships to promote peace, build trust and spur economic development for shared prosperity.”
“Moreover, it helps us all combat terrorism, reduce arms race, eliminate poverty… deal with natural disasters, tackle climate change and assure water security,” he added.
Expansion of the SCO has taken place at an ‘opportune time’, Nawaz said, as China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative has transformed the global economic landscape.
Pakistan, which has been an observer at the SCO since 2005, applied for a permanent membership in 2010. The decision to grant Pakistan membership was made by the SCO Heads of States in a meeting held in Ufa, Russia, in 2015.
Founded in 2001, the SCO is comprised of six member states, mainly focusing on military cooperation between the members which involves intelligence sharing and counter-terrorism operations in Central Asia.
Pakistan and India ─ who until now had been observers ─ have become the first nations to be inducted as members since the formation of the organisation.
According to media reports, PM Nawaz exchanged pleasantries with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in their first meeting since 2015, when Modi stopped by Lahore on a ‘surprise visit’ to meet the premier on his birthday.