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EditorialIntangible results of SCO summit

Intangible results of SCO summit

As usual, the main business of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) remained limited to reaffirming commitments and renewal pledges to expand and strengthen cooperation among the member states. Among the key happenings during the SCO summit, sidelines meetings of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with the heads of Russia and Iran came into the limelight. Both countries are having some sort of hostile relations with the west and facing various sanctions at the behest of the US. Pakistan being a major non-NATO ally of the US has to tread cautiously because it cannot go ahead with the generous offers made by both states without ascertaining its full impact on its relations with Washington. The meeting between PM Shehbaz Sharif and Russian President Vladimir Putin was more significant in the wake of domestic controversy stemming from the ouster of Imran Khan in April through a vote of no confidence. During the meeting, the Russian President made an offer to provide gas to Pakistan through the available infrastructure, however, Islamabad is still undecided over the Russian largesse given its ability to lay necessary infrastructure as well as its implications with reference to its relations with the US. If Russian gas can come to Pakistan, it would be a boon because Pakistan desperately needs energy to run its industry, grow its exports, and create jobs. Despite
the fact that there are endless possibilities of cooperation with Russia not just gas/oil alone, still, regional dynamics and international politics are becoming a major hurdle to any such
development. On the other hand, neighbouring India is having oil trade ties with Russia at the cost of US anger. In the larger national interest, Pakistan also needs to prioritise its interests amid changing global dynamics. The establishment of a new geo-political alliance in a rapidly changing world will not bring any disaster. The historically terse relationship must come to an end now as Pakistan needs to emerge out of stagnant foreign policy rooted in the permutations of the Cold War era. Pakistan’s courting of Russia is necessary to meet its immediate energy needs as well as to bring economic stability. For Pakistan, the benefit of this mutual relationship is obvious enough as Moscow is willing to assist Islamabad in producing clean energy through the exploration of new reserves as well as offering its own gas at much cheaper rates compared to the fuel oil being used
currently to produce electricity. Furthermore, Russia as the largest oil and gas producing country has plenty of technical expertise to contribute, which would further help eliminate Pakistan’s energy shortfall. With Russia and China gaining in strength and confidence in the global arena, the relationship among the world powers is set to undergo a shakeup as the unipolar dominance of the US now has a definite expiry date. To assert and secure their growing status, Russia and China are on a diplomatic offensive to win over new allies.
Both countries have realized the need to seek new, non-exclusive alliances rather than rigidly sticking with outdated attitudes and risk being vulnerable. It is hoped that this emerging alliance does not suffer from the reversals of the past and continues to foster results in a mutually advantageous economic relationship.

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