India, Pakistan become full members of SCO
India and Pakistan on Friday became full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the first-ever expansion of the China-dominated security grouping that is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO.
India's membership was strongly pushed by Russia while Pakistan's entry into the grouping was backed by China. With the first expansion of the grouping since its inception in 2001, the SCO will now represent over 40 per cent of humanity and nearly 20 per cent of the global GDP. As an SCO member, India is expected to have a bigger say in pressing for concerted action in dealing with terrorism as well as on issues relating to security and defence in the region.
"India and Pakistan are now members of the SCO. It is a very important moment for us," Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is the current chair of the SCO, said, making the announcement of the induction of India and Pakistan, capping a two-year-long accession process.
India, one of the largest energy consuming countries in the world, is also likely to get greater access to major gas and oil exploration projects in Central Asia as many of the SCO countries have huge reserves of oil and natural gas.
The SCO had set the ball rolling to make India a member of the bloc during its summit in Ufa, Russia, in July, 2015, when administrative hurdles were cleared to grant membership to India and Pakistan.