For the first time since its 2001 inception, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) suddenly has a pair of new members. As expected, last week’s SCO summit in Astana carried a bit more weight than high-level SCO meetings prior, with India and Pakistan officially added to the membership ranks. The expansion means that last week’s summit saw far more reverberation than any SCO development since at least 2005, when the organization issued a statement demanding the closure of non-SCO military bases in the region.
By simultaneously adding Pakistan and India the SCO, as participants emphasized last week, now represents nearly half of the global population, as well as significant economic and geographic heft. Moreover, where post-Soviet groups like the CSTO, CIS, or Eurasian Economic Union have floundered and flailed in struggling for relevance over the past few decade, the SCO — as evidenced by the expansion — continues to carry at least some muster among member-states, both current and prospective.