TASHKENT (APP/Web Desk) – Pakistan has become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) after signing Memorandum of Obligations (MoOs) on Friday.

The memorandum was signed by Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz at the SCO’s Heads of State Summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Radio Pakistan reported.

Full SCO membership will provide Pakistan a platform for forging closer ties with China, Russia and other members.

The document was jointly signed by the Foreign Ministers of six SCO member states, the Secretary General SCO and the Adviser on Foreign Affairs.

Pakistan has been an observer at SCO since 2005. It has been a regular participant in SCO meetings and was the first SCO observer to apply for full membership in 2010.

“The membership allows Pakistan to underscore its interest in regional peace, stability and development and its support for regional cooperation against terrorism, separatism and extremism,” a foreign office official said.

Pakistan’s request for membership was approved in principle at the SCO heads of state summit in Ufa, last July. The SCO Heads of State Council had “agreed to launch the procedure” of accepting Pakistan as a member state of SCO.

Pakistan’s neighbor and chief rival India also signed the SCO memorandum of obligations on Friday, commencing the process of its inclusion into the organization.

At present, China, Russia, Kazkhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajiksitan and Uzbekistan are its full members whereas Iran, Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia have observer status.

‘Time to work closely’

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Chinese state news agency Xinhua ahead of the summit that the accession of India and Pakistan would increase the organisation’s “relevance, both in the region and worldwide”.

“We expect that our partners will be able to accede as quickly as possible, by our next meeting in Kazakhstan next year,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said after the two countries signed memorandums to join the organization, the Kremlin website said.

Putin added that it was time to “work closely” on ensuring India and Pakistan are integrated into the organization, which requires regular meetings between member states´ foreign ministers and heads of government.

Uzbek president Islam Karim told local media that the accession negotiations with Pakistan and India had been ‘difficult’ but that organization members had managed to reach a compromise.

Turkey had also expressed a desire to join the SCO before its relations with Moscow soured over Ankara´s downing of a Russian fighter jet used in Moscow´s military operations in Syria last year.

The SCO is mainly focused on security, although critics say it has done little to prepare the region’s weaker states for potential fallout from the instability in Afghanistan, the war-torn country on the bloc´s southern border.

‘Economic and military benifits’

Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Defence Production Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qayyum Friday said Pakistan’s membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was a significant development in the changing geopolitical scenario.

“The SCO is an important forum and becoming of its full member especially when new alignments are being made at international level is a significant achievement for Pakistan,” he told the media.

According to him, there would be economic as well as military benefits after joining the prestigious forum. “The increased cooperation with the member states in diverse fields would help Pakistan in achieving sustainable prosperity and development.”