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  Opinion   Edit  05 Jul 2023  AA Edit | A few positive outcomes at SCO, despite the rifts

AA Edit | A few positive outcomes at SCO, despite the rifts

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jul 6, 2023, 12:10 am IST
Updated : Jul 6, 2023, 12:10 am IST

India’s presence in Quad as well as SCO places it in a unique position

The usefulness of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was emphasised as the US and the West watched on with more than usual interest. (Photo: AFP)
 The usefulness of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was emphasised as the US and the West watched on with more than usual interest. (Photo: AFP)

The utility of multilateral summits, even of the virtual kind, is not to be doubted. An increasingly fractious world needs all the forums it can gather towards facilitating the coming together of key leaders. The usefulness of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was emphasised as the US and the West, both not in this China-Russia centric grouping representing Eurasia and about 40 percent of the global population, watched on with more than usual interest.

What the leaders of more powerful nations of the grouping like China, Russia, India, and Pakistan, said through their leaders was even more in focus, even though most of what was said was reiteration of the regular stands like India’s on terrorism and China on economic cooperation and countering radical ideologies.

The West may have followed keenly what Vladimir Putin had to say in the wake of the Wagner rebellion that he was able to contain in the nick of time by stopping the march to Moscow. The only outcome so far has been that the Russia ally Belarus, which helped broker a compromise with the mercenary Yevgeny Prigozhin, is in line to join SCO even as another fiercely anti-US and anti-West nation, Iran, joined the grouping this year.

India’s key presence may not be seen as incongruous because of its historic non-aligned foreign policy even if this summit came within two weeks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first state visit to Washington. India’s presence in Quad as well as SCO places it in a unique position, though how this plays out in current global geopolitics is yet to be determined.

As the outlier in SCO, despite getting to chair the meeting by annual rotation this year six years after initiation, India may have had to say things that may have seemed in-the-face to a group comprising also China and Pakistan. India was clearly not on the path to winning over or influencing known adversaries in the group as Mr Modi pinpointed Pakistan’s use of terror as a weapon of state with the taciturn support of China and its veto power in certain global forums.

What may be interpreted as heartening were the Chinese supremo Xi Jinping’s comments as well as China reaffirming a commitment to the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs of countries as well as frowning on “states using terrorist, separatist end extremist groups and their accomplices to implement particular political and geopolitical goals”. Pakistan was party to the declaration, too, however ironic that may seem after its Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif still alluded to the Kashmir question, tiring as it may sound 76 years on.

A major point of deviation was India’s refusal to have anything to do with China’s Belt & Road Initiative, as a part of the multi-billion dollar project runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The message is, there may be differences, but a joint approach can still be made to seek avenues outside established Western structures.

Bridging the technological and digital divide was agreed upon in two joint statements as also the tackling of terrorism. These were the positive outcomes from the virtual summit.  The greatest disappointment was, apart from standard homilies about diplomacy showing the path and how the “extended SCO family” can help, there was so little pressure on Mr Putin regarding stopping the Ukraine war he started.

Tags: russian president vladimir putin, sco summit, russia ukraine war