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India and Pakistan are set to become full members of the China-dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The security bloc is holding its two day annual summit in Kazak capital Astana which started on June 8th, 2017.

The event is based on the theme “Future Energy” this year.

Also Read: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

For the first time the two South Asian neighbours will be part of a group that seeks security and military cooperation among its member countries. 

It will mark one of the rare times when India and Pakistan will conduct a joint military exercise. 

Both the countries are expected to follow Tashkent-based Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) to conduct the military exercise, after they join SCO. 

Other SCO members- China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will also conduct joint military exercises along with the two countries.

The development comes at a time when the already tense ties between the two countries are in a state of free fall.

Founded in Shanghai in 1996, this Eurasian alliance has China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as its members.

Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, Mongolia, India and Pakistan  have an observer status.

In the 2015 summit in Ufa in Russia, the group had formally adopted a resolution which started the procedure to admit India and Pakistan into the SCO. Both the countries signed Memorandum of Obligations to join the organisation last year.

Unlike several regional groupings, SCO is touted as a security alliance, a sort of counter to the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Counter-terrorism is one of the biggest concerns for the grouping that was apparently formed to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from Afghanistan.

The SCO has an anti-terrorist structure in place with a brief to analyse intelligence inputs about terror outfits, their presence and finances and also conduct counter-terrorism exercises.

The SCO also provides for military cooperation.

There are many who argue that the alliance provides a rare opportunity for the militaries of Pakistan and India to come together under the SCO framework.

Becoming a full member of the body will strengthen India’s position in Central Asia. 

It will also help the country’s aim to regional integration, promote connectivity and stability across borders.

For Russia, India would add weight to the grouping and check SCO from becoming a China-dominated alliance. 

At the same time, India will be concerned about China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative getting an SCO branding. 

Source: Hindustan Times, Firstpost, The Indian Express

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