Pakistan’s SCO Membership Will Create Ripples In The Existing Order
By Hussain Saqib
Pakistan has finally been accepted as a full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). And this has happened thanks to active support of China and Russia, its time-tested friend and a bitter-foe-turned-friend, respectively. Pakistan, with this new status, has effectively divorced itself from the bondage of its US friendship in order to join a new fraternity. It may be better to say that Pakistan has joined SCO not only to break free from the US clutches and crutches but also to be in synch with the changes taking place at a fast pace. This is something Pakistan could not have imagined to achieve just a decade ago.
We should be mindful of the fact that Pakistan has strong potentials to be an important player at the international chessboard. If its participation in Afghan Jihad (1979-89) could strip the mighty giant of the USSR of its Super Power status and usher the world into the era of a unipolar world order, it can play its role to undo its past doing. There is no exaggeration to state that Pakistan’s new status can usher the world back into bipolar, if not tripolar, world order.
Pakistani state had two problems which weakened it to the core so much so that it was unable to look others in the eye; massive corruption of the political elite in the last decade that bled its economy and religious, ethnic and urban terrorism which again retarded its economic growth. Due to corruption by the elite, the system could not throw up a genuine leader to steer the country out of troubled waters.
It has now changed; and changed for the better. Pakistan’s serious fight, and victory, against foreign-funded terrorism has raised its image in the eyes of international community. The establishment, which included all players, set aside the political opposition and cowardice in its fight against terrorists and has demonstrated to the public of its capacity to turn the country around winning kudos and confidence of a demoralized public.
It is for the first time that leaders of Pakistan and Russia have shaken hands as friends. The warmth of their smiles exchanged at this occasion is worth a million words. It seems Pakistan has decided to move on in spite of what USSR did to help break up Pakistan and Russia has also decided to move on in spite of Afghan Jihad.
Before becoming a full member of SCO, Pakistan had already embraced Russia thus demonstrating its sovereign will to defy, if not ditch, its American friends.
And why not?
It has wiped Indian proxy, TTP, from its soil, it has neutralized, if not befriended yet, hostile elements within Afghan establishment, it has defeated India’s designs to encircle it from Afghanistan, another Indian proxy, BLA is also on the run thus making Pakistan a country for safe and uninterrupted economic growth. Which is evident from China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) worth $46 billion. Russia would be pleased to chip in in this venture. Pakistan has already diversified its sources of military supplies and is gradually minimizing its dependence on the US and West. It nuclear program is comparatively the safest, effectively controlled and its nuclear weaponry of the superior quality.
With its deep-sea port of Gwadar, Pakistan would provide shortest supply routes to China and Russia and also Central Asian States. It naval forces would be strong enough to protect its Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs).
With the world’s 6th largest standing army, one of the finest nuclear arsenals, swiftly changing internal security environment for the better and its geo-strategic location, Pakistan should be all set to play its role to create at least some ripples, if not chaos, in the existing world order which is manipulative, oppressive and unjust.
Like all the good things happen at a cost, this new strength and status will have its own costs. Although it will push Pakistan closer to resource-rich Central Asia, Islamabad will also have to guard against the designs of its adversaries like India, Israel and, by extension, the USA.