India on Friday became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), ending an administrative process that began two years ago. India’s membership at the SCO was announced by the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who also welcomed Pakistan as a new member into the organisation.
“India and Pakistan are now members of the SCO. It is a very important moment for us,” President Nazarbayev said, concluding the two-year accession process. New Delhi has acceded to a set of 38 documents covering a range of activities of India in the organisation.
India and Pakistan were admitted as observers in 2005 and began the administrative process of joining the organisation, which began in 2001 in Shanghai, in 2015.
Friday’s ceremony however, comes in the backdrop of India-Pakistan tension over cross-border terrorism and India’s objection to China’s Belt and Road Initiative which passes through territories that India claims.
Fight against terror
Highlighting India’s concerns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India’s arrival into the organisation would boost the fight against terrorism. “Terrorism is a major threat to humanity. I have full confidence that the India-SCO cooperation will give a new direction and strength to the fight against terrorism,” he said.
Earlier, President Xi and Mr. Modi met on the sidelines of the summit in Astana following which Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar described the bilateral ties between the two countries as a “factor of stability” in the age of global instability.
Both leaders discussed the Kailash Mansarovar yatra, trade and investment issues, industrial parks, counter terror cooperation and parliamentary exchanges. “There was a fairly detailed discussion on cultural cooperation. President Xi in fact spoke very highly of Indian films. He said the film Dangal was doing well in China and that they were looking forward to the next International Day of Yoga (June 21),” said Mr. Jaishankar.
Mr. Modi also held a bilateral with the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirzyoyev and discussed medical tourism and trade between the two countries.
Mr. Modi also held an important meeting with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan.