Pakistan became a full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) after signing Memorandum of Obligations (MoOs), on Friday.
The memorandum was signed by Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz at SCO's Heads of State Summit at Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Radio Pakistan reported.
The document was jointly signed by the Foreign Ministers of Six SCO member states, Secretary General SCO and the Adviser on Foreign Affairs.
Pakistan, India edge closer to joining SCO
“Pakistan has been an observer at SCO since 2005. It has been a regular participant in the meetings of SCO and was the first SCO observer to apply for full membership in 2010,” a statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Office said.
Pakistan’s request for membership was approved in principle at the SCO heads of state summit in Ufa, Russia last July. The SCO Heads of State Council had ‘agreed to launch the procedure’ of accepting Pakistan as a member state of SCO.
India also signed the SCO memorandum of obligations on Friday, commencing the process of its membership into the organisation.
“We expect that our partners will be able to accede as quickly as possible, by our next meeting in Kazakhstan” next year, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said after Pakistan and India signed the memorandums on joining, the Kremlin website said.
He added that it was time to ‘work closely’ on ensuring Pakistan and India are integrated into the organisation’s cooperation mechanisms, which include regular meetings between member states’ foreign ministers and heads of government.
SCO membership – a potential trump card for Pakistan
Putin told Chinese state news agency Xinhua ahead of the summit that the accession of Pakistan and India would increase SCO’s “relevance, both in the region and worldwide.”
Uzbek president Islam Karim told local media Friday that the accession negotiations for Pakistan and India had been ‘difficult’ but that organisation members had managed to reach a compromise.
The SCO – whose members also include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – is mainly focused on security, although critics say it has done little to prepare the region’s weaker states for potential fallout from instability in Afghanistan on the bloc’s southern border.
Putin also said at the Friday summit that there were ‘no obstacles’ left for Iran – currently an SCO observer – to join the organisation now that sanctions connected to Tehran’s nuclear programme have been lifted.