When members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization convene June 9 in Tashkent for their annual summit, it is already apparent that expansion will be a major topic of discussion.
That expansion is an issue that won’t go away testifies to the fact the SCO, in its nine-year existence, has firmly established a reputation as being a force for stability in Central Asia. The three most prominent SCO observers are Iran, Pakistan, and India, and all have previously indicated interest in gaining full membership. Iranian membership is probably a bridge too far, given the recent tension in Tehran’s relations with Moscow, as well as the continuing controversy enveloping its nuclear program. But it is possible that both India and Pakistan may gain admission.
India and Pakistan seem likely to be admitted together, or not at all. While Moscow had been lukewarm to Pakistani membership in the past, the idea now appears to have Russian support. This fact can only galvanize India to follow suit, lest it hand a diplomatic advantage to its longtime rival.
To read the full story
Stephen Blank is a professor at the US Army War College. The views expressed this article do not in any way represent the views of the US Army, Defense Department or the US Government.