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The Implications of SCO Enlargement

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) celebrated its 10th anniversary last week, with the leaders of its six member states gathering in Astana, Kazakhstan, for the occasion. In addition to assessing the achievements of the organization's first decade, SCO leaders also considered the applications of Pakistan, India, Mongolia and Iran for full membership. There are now increasing indications that India and Pakistan might be admitted, although not before next year.

Nevertheless, admission of these two nations could alter the mission and global relevance of the SCO as a regional multilateral organization. The SCO was initially created as a security pact to maintain stability in Central Asia and discourage foreign military presence in the region. The arrival of India and Pakistan would sharply expand the geographic reach of the SCO and the population it represents, transforming the group from a central Asian security organization to an Asian one with a combined population of more than 2.5 billion people. ...

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