Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek to attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Formerly the Sanghai Five and formed in 1996, the SCO has eight members today including India and Pakistan, which became part of it in 2017.

What kind of a grouping is the SCO?
Since its formation, the SCO has focused on regional non-traditional security, with counter-terrorism as a priority: The fight against the “three evils” of terrorism, separatism and extremism has become its mantra. Today, areas of cooperation include themes such as economics and culture.

Under what circumstances did India enter the SCO?
While Central Asian countries and China were not in favour of expansion initially, the main supporter — of India’s entry in particular — was Russia. China then asked for its all-weather friend Pakistan’s entry. New Delhi expressed its serious interest to join the grouping in 2009, months after the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008.

What are India’s interests in SCO?
For India, two important objectives are counter-terrorism and connectivity. India wants access to intelligence and information from SCO’s counter-terrorism body, the Tashkent-based Regional Anti Terror Structure (RATS). RATS provides access to non-Pakistan-centred counter-terrorism information there.

Connectivity is important for India’s Connect Central Asia policy. Energy cooperation dominates its interest.