The main mantra of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is in line with India’s agenda to counter terrorism

For the first time, India is hosting a summit of the council of heads of the government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The meet, scheduled for November 30, will focus on contributing to the trade and economic agenda of the influential grouping.

There is no doubt in the fact that SCO holds substantial importance for India as it provides an excellent platform for India to connect with its extended neighborhood.

The summit allows Indian and neighborhood leaders to meet informally, on the sidelines. Both sides have the obligation not to bring in bilateral disputes but can cooperate on issues of mutual interest and importance.

In September, the SCO Foreign Ministers' Meets in Moscow saw the participation of the Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar where the ministers discussed the preparations of the summit in November. On the sidelines, Jaishankar met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and both leaders discussed ways to resolve border tension.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh also visited Moscow to attend the Defense Ministers’ meet and put forward his views on maintaining a peaceful and stable relationship with the member countries. Without taking names, the Defense Minister in presence of his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe talked about the peaceful resolution of differences.

Apart from this, the main mantra of the SCO is in line with India’s agenda to counter the evils of terrorism. India wants access to intelligence and information from SCO’s counter-terrorism body, the Tashkent-based Regional Anti Terror Structure (RATS). A stable Afghanistan too is in India’s interest, and RATS provides access to non-Pakistan-centred counter-terrorism information there.

During his visit to Moscow, Singh had said, “India will continue to support the efforts of the people and Government of Afghanistan for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled inclusive peace process.

“The SCO contact group on Afghanistan is useful for exchanging notes among SCO member states,” he added.

Another reason why the SCO is important for India is that connectivity is important for India’s Connect Central Asia policy. SCO membership also bolsters India’s status as a major pan-Asian player, which is boxed in the South Asian paradigm.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Earlier, India and Pakistan were observer countries. It was in 2017 that India joined the membership of the SCO along with Pakistan. Since then, India has been actively participating in the meetings.

Since its formation, the SCO has focused on regional non-traditional security, with counter-terrorism as a priority. The organization works on a mantra to fight against the three evils of terrorism, separatism, and extremism. However, today the areas of cooperation include themes such as economics and culture.