India Asked to Join Central Asian Grouping

Kazakhstan wants India to join the security group Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which was originally founded to protect against terrorism flowing out of Afghanistan. Reasons for Kazakhstan’s support of India include geographical proximity and future predictions that India will be one of the largest consumers of engery in the world. Kazakhstan has large deposits of oil and natural gas. Kazakhstan and India have also established a forum on counter-terrorism. If India joins the SCO it will “deepen security and economic ties with the entire resource rich Central Asian region” – a region that holds increasing interest for the U.S. and China and is considered by Russia to be its “backyard.” – YaleGlobal

India Asked to Join Central Asian Grouping

Atunl Aneja
Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Kazakhstan has advocated India's presence in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a key regional security grouping in Central Asia that also has Russia and China as members.

The ongoing visit of Kazakhstan's President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, also saw both sides agreeing on forging tie-ups in the oil and gas sector. "Kazakhstan with its substantial hydrocarbon resources could become an important source of energy to India, which is expected to become one of the largest energy consumers in the world,'' a joint statement released after talks between the visiting President and the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, said. Kazakhstan has proven oil reserves of 3 billion tonnes, apart from having 2 trillion cubic metre deposits of natural gas.

Pointing to India's proximity to Central Asia as well its larger international standing, the statement said that New Delhi's membership of the SCO "would add to the strength of that organisation''.

Analysts here observe that India's presence in the six-nation SCO will allow it to deepen security and economic ties with the entire resource rich Central Asian region as well as reinforce its ties individually with each of the countries. In case India takes part in the SCO, it will join the existing members Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia and China.

The SCO was originally formed as a bulwark against the threat of terrorism to Central Asia from the neighbouring Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. But the grouping is currently re-adapting to the new ground situation in the region following the war against terrorism. Specifically, the U.S. has become a key player in the area that Russia has long considered its backyard. The U.S. presence in Kyrghyzstan is also causing concern in China that apprehends a long-term clash of strategic interests with Washington in this landlocked region that has large reserves of oil and gas.

Government sources here said that the SCO was expected to discuss new membership rules at a meeting in St. Petersburg in June. Pakistan has applied for SCO's membership.

Kazakhstan also supported India as "an appropriate candidate'' for a permanent membership in an expanded U.N. Security Council.

Concerned over the threat of terrorism, India and Kazakhstan have decided to establish a forum on counter-terrorism. Without naming Pakistan, the statement noted that the fight against terrorism must also address those who instigate, assist or acquiesce "as much as those who perpetuate terrorism''. They agreed to back the U.N. security council resolution 1373 that calls upon all countries to root out terrorism from their soil.

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