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Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 42

Choice between Quadrilateral of Democracies and SCO

Tuesday 9 October 2007, by Mansoor Ali

Washington is not interested in New Delhi’s official admission to the nuclear power club because that would enhance the latter’s influence in international affairs. An important objective of the Americans in the region is to turn India into a major factor capable of counterbalancing a rapidly growing China. In order to reduce the SCO’s role and influence in the region and to promote realisation of the American concept of a “Greater Central Asia”, Tokyo and Washington are trying to drag New Delhi into a so-called Quadrilateral of Democracies aimed at building an alliance-like relationship between the US, Japan, Australia and India.

However, taking into account the existing close ties within the Washington-Tokyo-Canberra triangle, New Delhi would get only a second-grade role in such an arrangement. Moreover the anti-Chinese tilt of the new grouping will inevitably result in further deterioration of India’s ties with Beijing.

In this context it is imperative for India to pursue a more independent regional policy and not follow a one-sided American course. In particular, the development of its cooperation with the SCO will create favourable opportunities for India to gain additional political weight in the international arena. This will also help New Delhi use, in its national interest, the existing potential of political, military and economic cooperation within the SCO framework and thus strengthen Indian influence in region. Or else there is a strong possibility of India missing a chance to be involved in the growing integration processes within this powerful regional structure.

There is much talk in the West about the SCO formation being an influential mechanism of economic integration among Central Asian countries; and that should be taken into account while planning further political steps in region. ASEAN experts, pointing to the common approaches to solve a majority of global problems, express interest in establishing an ASEAN-SCO partnership to fight terrorism.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Linn Pasco, who visited Bishkek as an honoured guest at the SCO meet there, stated that the UN was interested in strengthening cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. According to him, in the present unstable times when new threats are emerging the growing role of such a multilateral structure as the SCO is a noteworthy feature, and therefore the UN intends “to work with it in this sphere”.

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