Regional cooperation has been a crucial element in promoting economic development, political stability, and cultural exchange in South Asia and beyond. Pakistan has been an active participant in various regional organizations, including the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Here’s a closer look at these organizations and Pakistan’s role in them:
- SAARC: Pakistan is one of the eight founding members of SAARC, which was established in 1985 with the aim of promoting economic and social development in South Asia. SAARC’s activities have included initiatives in areas such as trade, agriculture, and energy cooperation, as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges. However, the organization has faced several challenges, including tensions between India and Pakistan, which have led to the postponement or cancellation of several SAARC summits.
- ECO: Pakistan is also a founding member of ECO, which was established in 1985 with the aim of promoting economic cooperation and integration among its member countries, which span from the Middle East to Central Asia. ECO’s activities have included initiatives in areas such as trade, transport, and energy cooperation. Pakistan has been an active participant in ECO’s activities, hosting several summits and contributing to various initiatives.
- SCO: Pakistan became a full member of the SCO in 2017, after being an observer since 2005. The organization was established in 2001 and is primarily focused on promoting regional security and economic cooperation in Central Asia. SCO’s activities have included initiatives in areas such as counter-terrorism, energy cooperation, and cultural exchange. Pakistan’s membership in the SCO has been viewed as a significant step in strengthening ties with countries in the region, particularly China and Russia.
Pakistan’s participation in these regional organizations has been viewed as an important element of its foreign policy, with the aim of promoting regional stability and economic development. However, tensions with India have often hampered cooperation within these organizations, highlighting the challenges of regional cooperation in South Asia. Nonetheless, Pakistan continues to be an active participant in these organizations, seeking to build closer ties with its neighbors and promote regional integration.