Dec 8, 2021, 1:20 PM
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Iran’s SCO membership strengthens its standing in region: Scholars

Islamabad, IRNA -- The speakers at a webinar regarding Iran's membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) strongly believe that Iran’s full membership in international organization has strengthened its standing in the region.

They were addressing at a webinar titled "Iran’s membership in SCO: An opportunity" organized by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) in Islamabad.

While speaking on the occasion, Riffat Masood, the former Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran, said that the SCO is an important organization in a sense it does not have any member from the West. She added the SCO members can resolve regional problems on their own.

For that reason, the issue of Afghanistan would be a litmus test for the SCO she stressed. She said that link to economic prosperity brings about peace and security in the region.

She noted that both Iran and Pakistan have suffered immensely from the crisis in Afghanistan.

Riffat said, "I don’t see another bloc emerging between Russia-India and Iran because bilateral mechanisms for trade exist."

She said that Iran would be happy to have the SCO expand its mandate for economic cooperation because economic revival is of foremost importance to Iran.

She added at the moment the main issue for the SCO countries is peace and stability and security in the region and while economic cooperation is important for all, they would want to focus on the security issues.

Masood replying to a question said that gas is not a sanctioned product but the payment mechanism is under sanction. 

Mohammad Sorkhabi, the deputy ambassador of Iran to Pakistan, said that ‘Tehran anticipates greater integration after acquiring full membership of the SCO, adding that Iran’s modern communication and transportation infrastructure, centuries-old historical, cultural, and religious ties with most of the member states would altogether help accelerate Iran’s integration into the SCO. 

He emphasized now, Iran could better play its due role in addressing regional peace and security issues.

Regarding Afghanistan, he said that Tehran believes that an inclusive government in Afghanistan that includes Tajik, Uzbek, Turkmen, and Hazaras would strengthen peace within and without Afghanistan.

Professor Lubna Abid Ali, the dean of National Defense University (NDU) was of the view that SCO’s full membership has strengthened Iran’s standing in the region. With that, Tehran could play a pivotal role in the regional conflicts, she emphasized.

While echoing Ambassador Masood’s words, she urged the member states to resolve the issues related to the security in Afghanistan, drug trafficking, and extremism in the region.

She said that Iran and Pakistan share significance of US withdrawal from Afghanistan and any crisis in the country can have a spillover effect on both the countries.

The professor said that Iran has suffered a lot because of the US policy, adding that all major members of the SCO are facing mounting pressure from Washington.

She said that Iran holds key to many problems in the Middle East that may create stability. Lubna Abid Ali said that Iran is a pragmatic state and pragmatism defines their foreign policy.

She went on to say that Iran can also join China, Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), adding that Iran has repeatedly said that Chabahar is a port for the prosperity of the region. 

She noted that Iran’s accession to the SCO is also a victory for the new President Ebrahim Raisi. The development shows that Iran has close ties not only with China but Russia as well and it will promote regional connectivity and people to people contacts.

Dr Fauzia Amin from National Defense University (NDU) in her views said that Iran’s SCO member ship is a significant development and shows that Iran, Russia, and China are moving closer.

It is also evident from the development that the countries are not looking towards West to solve their issues, she said, adding that under the umbrella of the SCO, the partnership between Iran and China would be strengthened.

The researcher said that Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi have repeatedly stressed that the country must look towards the East not only to resist its economic isolation from the West but also to find strategic allies that would help it to reach a new agreement on the nuclear program addressing banking problems, unilateral sanctions, and strengthen its role in the Middle East and Asia.

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