SCO Summit 2022
Editor's note: The writer is the Founder of Friends of BRI Forum. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.
The 22nd annual meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)commenced on Thursday in the historic city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan with the participation of heads of permanent member states including China, Uzbekistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and India.
Themed “The world is coming to Samarkand", the Summit focuses on traditional and nontraditional security and development threats that are looming large on the horizon including the fears of ongoing war and resultant global and regional implications in terms of food and energy crisis.
As one of the largest gatherings of world leaders at one place, the SCO Summit offers opportunities, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, to discuss multilateral issues and build momentum in their relationships.
The SCO meeting has a significant role to play in tackling traditional security threats as SCO states are still plagued by terrorism, separatism and religious extremism along with wars. SCO was founded to combat such evils two decades ago in 2001, but as the bloc celebrates its 21 years of existence, these threats are not far from over. Wars are brewing and causing havoc in the region.
SCO needs to address challenges in Afghanistan as the country is grappling with growing instability, economic and human crises. The incumbent government of Afghanistan was not invited to the Summit based on the issue of its recognition and legitimacy to represent the people of Afghanistan. In the aftermath of the US exodus from Afghanistan and the following instability, especially the huge refugee influx.
The SCO Summit is expected to discuss and reach for consensus on devising strategies for growing non-traditional security threats including climate change-induced disasters including floods, droughts, pandemics, food and energy insecurity. Pakistan has suffered from super floods this year with abnormal monsoon rains. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif during his presence at the Summit will primarily focus on the ongoing humanitarian catastrophic challenge that the country is facing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistani Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahbaz Sharif are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of SCO. This will be Sharif’s first meeting with President Xi after the former assumed office recently this year and President Xi’s first high-level presence on the global stage since the pandemic.
China has recently supported Pakistan in the super floods as the Pakistani government is battling with the restoration and rehabilitation of the country. Both states have shared stronger bonds of cooperation where CPEC is the epitome of friendship. The steady path of development and progress on this important multifaceted project has the potential to connect the countries of SCO to expand their trade and economic cooperation hence building shared communities and creating prosperity.
This year’s summit is significant as Iran will be approved to join the consortium as a permanent member. The Memorandum of Obligations will be signed for Iran to SCO as a permanent member in the next summit to be held in April 2023. Iran’s membership in the organisation will help the country connect deeply on economic, political and strategic fronts.
SCO as an influential regional organisation covers 42 percent of the world’s population and 20 percent of the global GDP, with a tremendous potential to contribute towards regional peace and stability. As a regional powerhouse with multiple members, SCO is also facing tremendous challenges and has huge responsibilities at the same time. The responsibilities in a sense lie in gathering momentum and rallying support from members to build consensus and shunning the differences against the ever-increasing challenges. SCO has the potential to devise practical plans, policies and strategies to deal with threats together with the “Shanghai Spirit”.