India has became a full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Friday morning. Now India is expected to have a bigger say in pressing for concerted action in dealing with terrorism as well as on issues relating to security and defence in the region.
Since 2005, India has only been an observer at the SCO along with Iran and Pakistan.
Prime Minister Modi addressed the summit in Astana where he strongly pitched for coordinated efforts by member countries to combat terrorism and enhance connectivity without impinging on sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Modi said India’s entry into the SCO family will give a new momentum to the grouping in dealing with terrorism and other pressing challenges facing the region.
Modi stressed on coordinated efforts to fight the menace of terrorism, including radicalisation, recruitment, training and financing of terrorists.
“I have full confidence that the India-SCO cooperation will give a new direction and strength to the fight against terrorism,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister also spoke on the need for enhancing connectivity in the region and said it was the key for boosting trade and investment.
“We have extensive cooperation with SCO nations. We want to deepen the focus on connectivity,” he said.
The Prime Minister also asserted that sovereignty and territorial integrity should be the key factors in such a cooperation.
His remarks assume significance as they come weeks after India boycotted the high-profile Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing in which 29 world leaders took part. India abstained from the Summit to highlight its concerns over the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor which is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the pet project of Xi, and passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
The Prime Minister also called for efforts by the SCO to tackle climate change.
Modi, in his address, also thanked the SCO countries for granting membership to India. The Prime Minister said India’s SCO membership will certainly take cooperation among member states to new heights.
“The drivers of which will be energy, education, agriculture, defence, minerals, capacity building, development partnership, trade and investment,” he said.
Following Modi’s address at the Summit, India and Pakistan became full members of the SCO, the first-ever expansion of the China-dominated security grouping that is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO.
“India and Pakistan are now members of the SCO. It is a very important moment for us,” Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is the current chair of the SCO, said, making the announcement of the induction of India and Pakistan, capping a two-year-long accession process.
India’s membership was strongly pushed by Russia while Pakistan’s entry into the grouping was backed by China. With the first expansion of the grouping since its inception in 2001, the SCO will now represent over 40 per cent of humanity and nearly 20 per cent of the global GDP.
The SCO was founded at a Summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
(With inputs from PTI)