As tensions between Russia and NATO continue to percolate along Europe’s eastern periphery, another development has quietly emerged along the vast southern expanse of what was once the Kremlin’s Soviet empire. Possibly due to the wrap-up of NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan last December, scant attention was paid in the West to an announcement in July that not only may have an effect on security issues in Afghanistan, but is edging ever closer to the trans-Atlantic Alliance’s doorstep in Asia Minor.
At the 15th summit meeting of the six-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on July 9, it was announced that initiation procedures would begin for two countries with current observer status to become full members. Those two countries are India and Pakistan. With their membership expected to become active by the 2016 summit in Uzbekistan, the SCO is about to expand the vast territory and population under its membership umbrella as well as the organization’s geopolitical heft.