The world transformed and nobody in the West noticed. India and Pakistan have joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The 17 year-old body since its founding on June 15, 2001 has quietly established itself as the main alliance and grouping of nations across Eurasia. Now it has expanded from six nations to eight, and the two new members are the giant nuclear-armed regional powers of South Asia, India, with a population of 1.324 billion and Pakistan, with 193.2 million people (both in 2016).
In other words, the combined population of the SCO powers or already well over 1.5 billion has virtually doubled at a single stroke.
The long-term global consequences of this development are enormous. It is likely to prove the single most important factor insuring peace and removing the threat of nuclear war over South Asia and from 20 percent of the human race. It now raises the total population of the world in the eight SCO nations to 40 percent, including one of the two most powerful thermonuclear armed nations (Russia) and three other nuclear powers (China, India and Pakistan).
This development is a diplomatic triumph especially for Moscow. Russia has been seeking for decades to ease its longtime close strategic ally India into the SCO umbrella. This vision was clearly articulated by one of Russia’s greatest strategic minds of the 20th century, former Premier and Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who died in 2015. In the past China quietly but steadfastly blocked the India’s accession, but with Pakistan, China’s ally joining at the same time, the influence of Beijing and Moscow is harmonized.
The move can only boost Russia’s already leading role in the diplomacy and national security of the Asian continent. For both Beijing and Delhi, the road for good relations with each other and the resolution of issues such as sharing the water resources of the Himalayas and investing in the economic development of Africa now runs through Moscow.
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