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Central Asians Concerned About India, Pakistan Joining SCO

Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov meets his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the SCO summit in Ufa. Behind the smiles, there were disagreements over the planned accession of India and Pakistan to the group. (photo: president.uz)

Central Asian states are eyeing with concern the planned expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to include India and Pakistan, regional analysts say.

With the addition of the two South Asian countries, the membership of the organization -- now China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan -- would increase from six to eight. Four of those are outside Central Asia, and all four of those are nuclear powers with populations and economies that far surpass those of the SCO's four Central Asian members.

While there is little room in the SCO for public dissent, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov issued probably the most surprising statement of the summit, saying that the addition of India and Pakistan "would not only change the political map, but would change the balance of power. This is not a simple issue, and it needs to be discussed."

That went against the conventional wisdom in Ufa, which was that the addition of India and Pakistan would make the SCO stronger and was to be welcomed. 

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Central Asians Concerned About India, Pakistan Joining SCO

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