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WASHINGTON – New Delhi wants greater involvement in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to further its work with regional countries on counter-terrorism and to guard Afghanistan against the reemergence of the Taliban, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
While it may not get full SCO membership when the group meets in June, India wants to join in exercises of massive air and ground offensives aimed at going after the militants.
Sources point out that this will be the first time India will be involved in bloc war games.
The SCO includes China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Russia has been a major proponent of India’s active membership in the SCO.
But China has held back on such an endorsement due to its historical differences with New Delhi over border disputes and India’s desire to get more involved in activities in the South China Sea, which China regards as its sphere of influence.
Nevertheless, India intends to work closely with the SCO’s Tashkent-based Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure as well as the SCO’s trade ministers’ meetings.
Both India and members of the SCO hope to bring about a more stable Afghanistan, with the RCTS putting limits on the spread of radical Islamist militants in the Central Asian region.
Three of the SCO-member countries are embroiled in the spread of Islamist militants from Pakistan and Afghanistan into Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.
Concern among the regional members is that if such advances aren’t blunted, Islamist militants will spread into Russia and China.
China already believes it has seen an increasing rise of Islamist Uighur militants who have been trained in militant camps in Pakistan before moving into China’s western-most Xinjiang province.
Russia wants to see not only full SCO membership for India but also Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Sources point out that the United States has been trying to discourage Afghanistan from joining the SCO, given Russian influence in the group.
As of now, Pakistan, India, Iran and Mongolia have observer status at the SCO. Turkmenistan and Afghanistan also attend as guests.
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