The 18th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) took off on Saturday, June 9, and its meaty part is set to be held on Sunday, June 10, when the members will lay out a blueprint for the future growth of the group which expanded last year with the inclusion of two key Asian powers - India and Pakistan.
RATS: A key issue of SCO:
Among the key issues that are likely to gain focus in this summit is the RATS (Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure) - a mechanism of the SCO which seeks an alternative framework for regional stability and which is broader and more inclusive in nature. Yevgeniy Sergeyevich Sysoyev of Russia is the current director of RATS.
Based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the RATS is a regional framework which aims at facilitating cooperation among the member states to exchange information and cooperate on issues related to counter-terrorism and security.
The initiative of the RATS has expanded recently and engaged relevant organisations and groups. Reports came out as recently as May end that RATS, along with the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Commonwealth of Independent States Amti-Terrorism Center have signed a trilateral deal on a joint counter-action to terrorism.
The RATS is particularly significant in the light of the entries of India and Pakistan into the SCO since these two countries have a close connection with counter-terror mechanisms, even though their own relations have not been in the best of health for most part of history.
In May, a team of three Indian officials went to Pakistan to attend a talk on terror and the occasion was a regional meeting of the RATS for legal experts.
The meeting saw experts from the SCO's eight member states as well as representatives of the RATS executive committee and they discussed terrorist threats that the region face and the ways and means to improve counter-terror operations between the members of the SCO.
Earlier than that, in December 2017, India and Pakistan also took part in anti-cyber-terrorism drill in Xiamen in China's Fujian province to better coordination among the SCO members of counter-terrorism efforts, according to a statement issued by RATS. India and Pakistan went to the event despite the fact that the relation between the two took a sharp dip then because of frequent instance of ceasefire violations.
SCO and CAATSA:
The United States' flurry of diplomatic offensives of late like pulling out of the Iran deal and warning India over the latter's military deals with Russia despite imposing sanctions on Moscow under the CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) aimed at Russia, Iran and North Korea, are also likely to bring the Big Three of the SCO - Russia, China and India -- closer at the 18th summit.
On Iran, none of India, China and Russia are in favour of imposing unilateral sanctions and this common ground is likely to be reinforced at the ongoing SCO summit. A number of Eurasian countries have sought to continue good ties with Iran while India has said that it doesn't follow country-specific sanctions on Iran but only those approved by the United Nations. China too has said that it is against a specific country imposing unilateral sanctions on others and looks to better ties with Iran - a key oil supplier in the world market.