The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Astana Summit 2017: India, Pakistan become full members

Date: June 10, 2017

China Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Russia India

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, 2017,  held from 8-9 June in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The group, which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai comprises China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as full members. Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have an observer status.This summit is particularly important for India and Pakistan because they will be formally admitted into the group.

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The SCO was founded with the aim to strengthen relations among member states and promote cooperation in political affairs, economics and trade. With the inclusion of the two countries, SCO will become a regional organisation with the largest coverage involving the biggest population.

India’s membership was strongly pushed by Russia while Pakistan’s entry into the grouping was backed by China. With the expansion of the grouping, the SCO will now represent over 40% of humanity and nearly 20% of the global GDP.
As an SCO member, 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.
India, one of the largest energy consuming countries in the world, is also likely to get greater access to major gas and oil exploration projects in Central Asia as many of the SCO countries have huge reserves of oil and natural gas.
The SCO was founded at a Summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India, Iran and Pakistan were admitted as observers at the 2005 Astana Summit.
India is also keen on deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.
India has been an observer at the SCO since 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.