From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : SCO
Mains level : SCO and India- Pakistan relation
- A meeting of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) that India will host in May is expected to bring together foreign ministers of the regional grouping, which includes China, Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Bilateral ties with Pakistan and China are at a new low. But multilateral settings are often viewed as opportunities for countries with problematic relations to find a way forward.
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- India has invited Pakistan’s foreign minister to a meeting of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO) that India is hosting in May this year.
All you need to know about SCO
- Background: After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the then security and economic architecture in the Eurasian region dissolved and new structures had to come up.
- Original shanghai five: The original Shanghai Five were China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
- SCO formation: The SCO was formed in 2001, with Uzbekistan included. It expanded in 2017 to include India and Pakistan.
- Security is the priority: Since its formation, the SCO has focused on regional non-traditional security, with counter-terrorism as a priority.
- Three evils: The fight against the “three evils” of terrorism, separatism and extremism has become its mantra.
- Expanded areas of cooperation: Today, areas of cooperation include themes such as economics and culture.
Do you know SCO RATS?
- Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) is a permanent organ of the SCO which serves to promote cooperation of member states against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism.
- It is headquartered in Tashkent.
- Its head is elected to three-year term.
- Each member state of SCO sends permanent representative to RATS.
Where India and Pakistan stand today?
- Changed terms of engagement: Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has begun to reset the terms of the engagement agenda.
- India’s improved diplomatic position: India’s transformed relations with the US, the resolution of Delhi’s dispute with the global nuclear order, and getting the West to discard its temptation to mediate on Kashmir enormously improved India’s diplomatic position.
- Economic growth: The most consequential change has been in the economic domain. India has recently overtaken the UK to become the fifth largest economy in the world.
- Broken Pakistan: The persistent neglect of economic challenges left Pakistan in an increasingly weaker position in relation to India. If India has inched its way into the top five global economies, Pakistan today is broken.
India’s position on engagement with Pakistan
- India’s approach in dealing with Pakistan today: The Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi recently said “We we have always wanted normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan. But there should be a conducive atmosphere in which there is no terror, hostility or violence. That remains our position.”
- What Pakistan says: Deputy Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said in Davos that she does not see a partner currently in the Prime Minister of India to take this project of peace-building forward.
- When the multilateral meeting is to be hosted by a country that is on one side of the rift, the first step is for the other side to accept the invitation. An election is upcoming in Pakistan, and having committed themselves to a position, both Bhutto and Khar would be mindful that their actions must match their words. But despite this, if there is an opportunity for a thaw, India must not be the one to miss it. India need handle the hostile neighbor with the right approach.