A few in White House will have upset stomachs. Pakistan has long been viewed as United States’ backyard. India has been assiduously cultivated in Modi era with charm offensive and deals. Both have quietly trotted into the welcoming arms of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). An organisation that doesn’t allow either United States or Japan within its precincts.
Is SCO important? Hugely so. It began as a bulwark of security 12 years ago when Uzbekistan joined the original members of Shanghai Five: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The agenda was to return Asia to pre-terrorism days of the 90s; to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism in Central Asia. India and Pakistan, having woken up to the demons of destabilisation breathing down its necks, have found a compelling ground to override their differences. Iran, the whipping boy of West, is certain to join the SCO in 2016. Syria, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Bangladesh seek observer status. This organisation now represents half of world’s population; 20 percent of the world’s oil and half of all global gas reserves. There is little doubt it wants to replace US dollars with petro-yuan and petro-ruble in the energy trade.
Central Asia, as we know, is engulfed in fire. Iraq and Syria are wrecked; Libya and Lebanon have been torched; Yemen has burning fields; Gaza a very definition of human misery. Afghanistan is a reflection of the old belief that Hindu Kush is central to imperialistic designs. US wouldn’t get out of it in a long, long time. Soon, it would be the turn of India, Pakistan, China and Russia to face the music. “The Empire of Chaos,” as noted writer Pepe Escobar chooses to describe United States, will only be happy if this region remains fragmented and balkanized. That it never comes to a situation where the region is able to organise itself under a US-less banner.
SCO has foreseen the future it is determined to avoid. Beijing is conscious Washington has tried to sow seeds of trouble in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang. That Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Uighurs are being funded and armed. That US is not only actively intervening in South China Sea disputes but is also encouraging Japan to mount an open military aggression.
Russia is being hounded like no other nation in the past quarter century. Its borders are a sea of trouble. Ukrainians have been instigated to force a civil war. Terrorists have been let loose in north Caucasian region who openly swear loyalty to self-proclaimed IS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who in turn declare a large swathe of Russian territory as a province of his emirate. Baltic region sees a revival of fascism.
Pakistan is facing an “undeclared war” from US with its series of drone attacks which primarily are targeting civilians and infrastructure. As large as 60 percent of US drone strikes has hit buildings and not the so-called Taliban hotspots. This drone programme for Pakistan has been in existence for over a decade. But Islamabad really woke up to US designs when the bogus story of Osama bin Laden’s presence and eventual killing inside Pakistan was drummed up as truth. It realized that it is being painted in a corner as a terrorist-haven by no less than its own patron-in-chief.
India knows United States presently needs it as a bulwark against China. But the Modi government itself is very keen to open avenues of trade and gas pipelines through Pakistan, Afghanistan to Iran. It doesn’t want to be pawn to US’ designs. It also knows if Pakistan goes, and US is able to build strong military bases in its neighbouring country, in order to breathe down the neck of China, the region could be a living hell.
Russia is now looking at “Go East” policy. China has made no secret of its “Go West” desire. Russia has given up being included as equal in the European mainland. China is aware once West has taken care of Russia, similar tactics would be employed to burn China at its edges.
The emergence of BRICS and strengthening of SCO is counter to the very purpose which US has pursued with deadly intent in the last two decades. US and its armed extension NATO is facing a clone challenger—an east NATO being hammered into shape by China and Russia. It’s a return to Cold War 2.0. Instead of US trying to isolate Iran and Russia and encircle China, its’ rather US which is facing isolation in this region. US military bases are being forced to shut down shops. It has been evicted from the Karshi-Khanabad base in Uzbekistan and from the Manas base in Kyrgyzstan in 2014.
SCO has begun to counter NATO’s presence in Asia. BRICS and SCO could well be seen as first two nails that were hammered into the coffin.