India signalled that it will boycott China’s second Belt and Road Forum for a second time on Wednesday, saying no country can participate in an initiative that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity. India boycotted the first Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in 2017 after protesting to Beijing over the controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) overriding New Delhi’s sovereignty concerns. Unlike some 50 years ago, when our relationship had a much narrower basis and there was not much communication, today we have what one would call a full-spectrum relationship. This has been possible because our respective leaders have realised that mutually-beneficial cooperation responds to the most urgent developmental needs of our people and these needs to be prioritised over other issues. The entry of India and Pakistan into China-led SCO may help boost anti-terrorism cooperation between the two countries and provide a platform to resolve their differences. India and Pakistan have a long-time rivalry concerning the issues of anti-terrorism and Kashmir and will need to sign a number of documents and pledge to perform in accordance with the SCO laws, including the SCO Member States Agreement on Border Defence Cooperation that was signed in 2015. The entry of the two nations into the SCO may help boost cooperation in the areas such as infrastructure and anti-terrorism efforts. As per the framework of the SCO, a third party could step in to prevent an outbreak of conflict between the two countries. The hostility between India and Pakistan is unlikely to be dispelled in a short time, but the SCO is likely to provide a fresh platform for the two nations to gradually resolve disputes. The SCO, which is headquartered in Beijing, focuses mostly on security related issues like counter-terrorism cooperation in Central Asia. It is comprised of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as full members. Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status. During its 2015 summit in Ufa, Russia, the SCO formally adopted a resolution which started the procedures to admit India and Pakistan into the grouping. The admission of India and Pakistan into the SCO at that time had hyped hopes of acceleration in South Asia’s highway network construction. Today with the changing security spectrum things have remained once again at loggerheads.
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