by Xinhua writer Zhu Dongyang
BEIJING, June 8 (Xinhua) -- The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will witness its first-ever expansion at the upcoming Kazakhstan summit.
The inclusion of India and Pakistan, both major countries in the region, demonstrates the organization's growing appeal.
Once New Delhi and Islamabad officially in, the eight-member bloc will then cover nearly half of the world's population and three-fifths of the Eurasian continent. Its role in promoting regional stability and prosperity would thus be greatly boosted.
Since its founding in 2001, the SCO has encountered numerous naysayers and critics who have questioned its motives, principles and development.
Yet the organization's steadfast commitments to peace and growth in some of the world's most volatile nations have remained unshaken over the years.
That's because the SCO countries have shared great needs to maintain peace and security in the region, and even greater needs to foster faster economic development. These common interests outweigh their differences in political systems, cultures, social textures and levels of economic development.
After India and Pakistan are admitted to the SCO, they will enjoy broader anti-terrorism intelligence sharing with other partners within the bloc.
A mature multilateral mechanism such as the SCO will also help the two countries strengthen their trust-building process and enable them to work together to combat their common enemy -- terrorism.
Moreover, the SCO could also serve as a platform to better promote their shared economic and trade development, especially cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
"The SCO has never been just a security group from the beginning. The Belt and Road Initiative offers a timely and convenient framework for the SCO members to facilitate connectivity and ultimately, achieve free flows of goods, capital, service and technology," said Sheng Shiliang, a researcher at the Xinhua Center for World Affairs Studies.
Sun Zhuangzhi, secretary-general of the SCO Research Center affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said "comprehensive cooperation at all levels as part of the regional integration process is unstoppable. India cannot keep itself from this general trend for too long, it will come and join in like this time, sooner or later."
The impressive performance of the SCO in the past 16 years deserves greater global confidence in its ability to dispel doubts and divergences.
As Chinese President Xi Jinping and other heads of state gather in Astana for the SCO summit on Thursday and Friday, the world can expect that the organization, by absorbing two major regional countries, can help promote regional unity in the quest for a more secure and prosperous future.