ISLAMABAD    -   Pakistan is committed to support China’s bid to make the Shang­hai Coopera­tion Organisation more influential as Prime Minis­ter Shehbaz Sharif prepares for Beijing trip soon.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is already in China for an official visit which is being seen as significant to enhance co­operation.

PM Shehbaz participated in the September 15-16 SCO summit in Uzbek Silk Road city Samarkand where he held meetings with Chi­nese President Xi Jinping and Rus­sian President Vladimir Putin.

This was the first in-person gathering of the central Asian grouping since 2019. Since its cre­ation in June 2001, the SCO has performed an important role in the geopolitics of the world’s big­gest and most crucial continent. 

It was first established by the People’s Republic of China as a ge­opolitical stabilisation mechanism in its West Asian borderlands - a zone that had developed a sense of endemic instability in the 1990s. From the outset, the SCO presented itself as a bulwark against “terror­ism, separatism and extremism”, a language that sought to capital­ise on the global counter-terrorist consensus of the 9/11 era.

As the SCO has evolved, it has fo­cused not only on counter-terror­ism but also on drug trafficking, military cooperation and dabbled with economic collaboration. 

In many respects it was an il­lustrative example of the ways in which Asia’s states turned to mul­tilateral security mechanisms in the 1990s and early 2000s as they began to grapple with the security consequences of globalisation and the unsettling of the old strategic balance.

More recently, it has been ener­gised by the growing alignment of Russian and Chinese interests as well as the increased significance of Central Asia.

The founding members were China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyr­gyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbeki­stan. India and Pakistan joined in 2017, reflecting the priority that the two South Asian states placed on the Asian landmass and their recognition of its growing weight.

The SCO has been an observer in the UN General Assembly since 2005. In April 2010, the UN and SCO Secretariats signed a Joint Declaration on Cooperation. SCO Secretariat has also established partnerships with the UN Educa­tional, Scientific and Cultural Or­ganisation (UNESCO), the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), and the International Organisa­tion for Migration (IOM), in addi­tion to its ongoing cooperation with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the UN Office on Counter-Ter­rorism (UNOCT).

Pakistani diplomats said that Islamabad supported China’s vi­sion to make SCO stronger and in­fluential. “Pakistan highly values the SCO and is part of efforts to strengthen its significance,” said a senior Pakistani diplomat.

He said PM Shehbaz Sharif had spoken about the importance Pa­kistan attached to the SCO in his meetings with President Xi Jinping and President Putin.

“PM Shehbaz is preparing for China visit in November. The SCO meeting will again be discussed. Pakistan believes the SCO has de­livered and will continue to deliv­er. We support China’s bid for a stronger and influential SCO,” he remarked.

International Relations expert Dr Huma Baqai said the forum of SCO was more important strategi­cally, as Pakistan was looking for­ward to geoeconomic cooperation. 

“Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif extended an invitation to Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Paki­stan, which he accepted. On the other hand, we are facing the dev­astating situation of floods, and any cooperation will be fortunate for us. But unfortunately, we hav­en’t done our homework accord­ing to the potential of this forum. The SCO which includes the world leading powers can be much more useful to bring in more energy supplies for us. Good relations with Russia, Iran and China will help meet energy needs of Paki­stan,” she commented.