Pakistan has been confronted with devastating terrorism from past few years. Various international terrorist organizations with the ground support of the neighbouring states’ intelligence networks have been conducting sporadic terrorist operations inside the country. The terrorists are attacking the soft targets and innocent unarmed civilians. Nevertheless, the terrorists and their foreign handlers have remained impotent to terrorize the people of Pakistan.
The Government of Pakistan formulated and is presently executing an exhaustive counter-terrorism strategy. Admittedly, without the sincere cooperation of other countries, specifically the neighbouring states, it is a challenging task to tackle the menace of transnational terrorism. Therefore, the Pakistani government officials consider Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) an instrumental platform for pursuing its counter-terrorism objectives regionally as well as globally.
The SCO is a multinational Eurasian organization. The primary objective of SCO is spelled out in its’ Article 1 which states that the SCO members’ necessitate joint counteraction against terrorism, separatism and extremism in all their manifestations. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi participated in the 16th Meeting of the Council of the Heads of Government (CHG) of the SCO at Sochi. The focus of the summit was the strategy, prospects, and the priorities of the SCO’s developmental cooperation.
Pakistan became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on June 9, 2017. Presently, the SCO includes eight member states: Pakistan, China, Russian Federation, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan while there are four observer states: Iran, Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia. Besides members and observers six dialogue partners including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey.
Pakistan’s full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization also manifests Islamabad’s gradual shift towards Eurasian security setups. Foreign Minister of Pakistan Khawaja Muhammad Asif opined that the time had come to review the policy and shift our focus towards Russia and China. Perhaps, the gradual shift not only exhibited Pakistan’s significance in the Eurasian geopolitics, but also offer Islamabad various political, economic and strategic advantages.
The SCO vision about economic and trade cooperation is equally advantageous to Pakistan’s economic vision. The membership of SCO could facilitate Pakistan in enhancing it’s economic outreach by integrating China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Eurasian Economic Union. While speaking at Council of Heads of Government of the SCO, Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi advocated the development of mutually beneficial, transparent and inclusive multilateral trading system under the ambit of SCO. He advocated for early establishment of SCO Development Bank and Development Fund. He also offered to connect CPEC to the 6 main trade corridors of SCO.
Presently, Moscow and Beijing are keenly working in restoring peace in Afghanistan. Without sustainable peace in Afghanistan the accomplishment of the SCO objectives is unmanageable. Premier Abbasi met his Russian
counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of SCO summit at Sochi. While expressing their resolve to deepen bilateral cooperation in all fields of mutual interest, both agreed to continue efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
Likewise, the Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Li Keqiang ensured his Pakistani counterpart Khaqan Abbasi in their bilateral meeting on the sideline of the SCO summit that China endorses as well as
supports Pakistan’s vision about regional peace, security, stability and development.
The terrorist organizations are ineffective in denting the counter-terrorism resilience of both people and the law enforcement agencies of Pakistan. Nevertheless, the Government of Pakistan needs to implement the National Action Plan (NAP) in letter and in spirit. Without NAP’s all-inclusive execution, the eradication of the roots of terrorism from the Pakistani society is impossible.
The SCO membership facilitates Islamabad in pursuing its counter-terrorism agenda through cooperation and intelligence sharing with the Organization members. In this context, the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) un
der SCO would be very useful for Pakistan in combating the menace of transnational terrorism.
During the meeting, Premier Abbasi stated that, “Pakistan desires an early return of peace, stability and prosperity to our brotherly country of Afghanistan. To this end, we call for further deepening of cooperation within the new consultative format of SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group”.
To conclude, the RATS is an appropriate forum for sharing information about the transnational terrorist organisations and drawing the attention of Kabul towards the misuse of Afghanistan territory against Pakistan. Precisely, RATS facilitate member States to act collectively against the menace of transnational terrorism.