Issue Brief on “Significance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) for Pakistan”

Introduction

In the last few years, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has emerged as an important actor on the international platform. It not only brings together the two Eurasian giants, China and Russia, but also comprises of members who have been granted either observer status or have been labeled as dialogue partners. Outside of its participant countries, the organisation has mainly attracted critics who question the organisation’s viability and the democratic credentials of its members. A number of Western scholars view the SCO as a counter to American interests. Major Jefferson of the United States Air Force has described the SCO as an “enigma… a security organization, a regional forum, an anti-terrorism coalition” and “…as a Russian and Chinese led alliance created to counter U.S. hegemony”. Some scholars have run parallels with the Warsaw Pact and even labeled the organization as a “NATO of the East”.

However, the member states see the SCO as anything but a military alliance. Rather they view it as a platform for peace, security and economic development throughout the region. The SCO aims to be a conduit for connectivity in the region with regard to energy, transportation and communications. Chinese President Xi Jinping, stated as much when he said, “SCO members have created a new model of international relations – partnership instead of alliance”.

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