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SCO: NATO of the East
|by Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle|
As in physics, in defence and security too, there is a universal law which states that every action always has an equal and opposite reaction. The break up of the Soviet Union in 1989 led to prediction of demise of Russian power and invincibility of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Two decades later, NATO is increasingly mired in the bogs of Afghanistan while a challenger is emerging from the ashes of the Soviet military might, the SCO.
SCO or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001 by six nations, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The main themes of the SCO Charter are to enhance mutual trust, friendship and good neighborliness, multidisciplinary cooperation in peace, security and stability, promotion of a new democratic, fair and rational political and economic international order and joint counteraction against terrorism, separatism and extremism. A majority of these are in the field of security, thereby indicating that the organization is primarily a security biased grouping.
However so far the power of the SCO was severely constrained by limitations in its principal engines of power, Russia and China. Russia's new found economic and military might and China's growing interests in Central Asia given the energy fountains and 1 million Uighurs in the region made it inevitable that the SCO would soon gravitate towards security. China is extremely sensitive to an uprising by Uighurs in the region who are ethnic Muslims settled in its Western most province, Xingjian or East Turkistan as is called by the dissidents. More over most Central Asian states are power houses of global energy and with the addition of observers as Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia, the grouping is assuming far greater clout than what was envisaged when it was formed six years ago. With the United States rapidly gaining influence in Central Asia by pumping in aid, Russo-Chinese foray was more than anticipated.
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