The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. These countries, except for Uzbekistan had been members of the Shanghai Five, founded in 1996; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organisation.
The Shanghai Five grouping was created 26 April 1996 with the signing of the Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions in Shanghai by the heads of states of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. On 24 April 1997, the same countries signed the Treaty on Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions in a meeting in Moscow.
The SCO is primarily centered on its member nations' Central Asian security-related concerns, often describing the main threats it confronts as being terrorism, separatism and extremism. However evidence is growing that its activities in the area of social development of its member states is increasing fast.
Pakistan has become a full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) after signing Memorandum of Obligations (MoOs), on June 24, 2016. 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 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 by the Heads of State Summit held in Ufa, Russia, in July last year. The Heads of State Council had agreed to launch the procedure of accepting Pakistan as a member state of SCO with the consensus of all the founding members.
SCO will allow Pakistan to underscore its interest in regional peace, stability, development and its support for regional cooperation against terrorism, separatism and extremism. It will provide us with a platform for forging closer ties with China, Russia and other members of SCO. It will also allow us to explore greater economic linkages and cooperation with Central Asian countries in the areas of energy and transport. The Expansion in SCO membership will enhance importance and relevance of the Organization as its 8 Members would represent 45 percent of the total global population.
Pakistan had been striving for the permanent membership of SCO. Pakistan has always maintained a policy of friendly relations with its neighbouring countries. Also, it has substantially contributed to the working of another regional organization i.e. SAARC. The all-encompassing policies of Pakistan have convinced China to make an investment as huge as 46 billion dollars under CPEC. Pakistan has always played an active role in all international organizations. SCO membership will serve as a confidence building measure for other countries to invest in Pakistan.
Pakistan has described its permanent membership to Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an important milestone with regard to its national objectives. Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakariya said this would provide a platform to Pakistan to collectively work with other SCO member states in different fields, including security. Due to the strategic location of Pakistan, other regional countries can also take full benefit of it for the promotion of trade and economic activities through enhanced connectivity.