Pakistan signs Memorandum of Obligations for SCO’s full membership

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Services Chiefs call on President; exchange Eid greetings

By Shumaila Andleeb

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, June 24 (APP): Pakistan on Friday signed the Memorandum of Obligations to become the full member of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – a key security, economy and energy cooperation group comprising Russia, China and the countries of Central Asia.

President Mamnoon Hussain represented Pakistan at the signing ceremony at the 16th Heads of the State Council of the SCO held here in the Uzbek capital. Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz inked the Memorandum of Obligations.

The Memorandum of Obligations was jointly signed by the Foreign Ministers of six SCO member states, Secretary General SCO and Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz.

“With signing of the document, Pakistan has achieved a “milestone” towards attaining the full membership of SCO,” Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs told APP after signing the Memorandum at the ceremony attended by SCO leaders.

Sartaj Aziz said the signing was continuation of Pakistan’s approval for membership during Ufa summit last year and was also an acknowledgement of its positive contribution for the Organization since its status as observer since 2005.

He said Pakistan had a three-month deadline for fulfilling the
formalities of 29 agreements, after which Pakistan would be given the status of full member at SCO summit in Astana, Kazakhstan next year.

At the summit, India also signed the Memorandum along with Pakistan, which is part of the Organization’s step towards its expansion.

Aziz said in accordance with the `Shanghai Spirit’, every country had moral obligation on it to maintain good relations with other member states.

“This sends a clear message to India that being on the path to
attain full SCO membership, it should maintain friendly relations with Pakistan,” he said.

Aziz said Pakistan and India were two important countries of the region which had a population of around three billion and added that SCO’s relevance in this scenario had increased.

He said it was high time for Pakistan to exploit the rich potential of Central Asia and receive cooperation in completion of its various regional development projects.

Sartaj Aziz expressed confidence that Pakistan would play an
important role in the SCO due to its experience in dealing with the challenges of counter-terrorism, security issues and drug trafficking.

Politically, he said, Pakistan would be in a better position to maintain close relations with Russia and China, being the key powers of the region.

Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov held a press briefing following the signing of SCO’s Memorandum by Pakistan and India.

The Uzbek President said Pakistan and India, also the two nuclear states, had huge potential to benefit from the potential of SCO platform.

“Taking into account the `peace’ as the main objective of SCO, the Organization has expanded its grouping with inclusion of Pakistan and India,” he said, terming the signing by the two countries as “historic”.

The signing has commenced the process of inclusion of
Pakistan and India as member states. Earlier, the inclusion of Pakistan
and India in the SCO membership was first approved at the SCO
summit held in Ufa, Russia in July 2015.

The foreign ministers of member states including China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan had adopted the Memorandum of Obligations for Pakistan and India last month.

Pakistan’s membership will have a positive impact on several major issues pertaining to military and technical cooperation with Russia and on huge communication projects with China.

The SCO – a Eurasian political, economic and military organization will also provide Pakistan prospects of strong position in the region and greater access to resources with the grouping comprising China, Russia and Central Asian states.

At present, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are its full members whereas Iran, Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia have observer status.