Kashmiri residents run at the site of a grenade blast in Srinagar, November 4, 2019.-Reuters

THE SHANGHAI Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states recently called for an open, inclusive, transparent and non-discriminative comprehensive multilateral fair trading system based on the rules and spirit of the World Trade Organisation (TWO).

They opposed any form of unilateralism and protectionism in international and regional trade by any individual or group of nations.

The joint communique was issued following the 18th meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of Member States of the SCO held in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.

Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Tajik Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda, Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov, and representatives from Pakistan and India attended the meeting.

It was announced that the next meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of Member States of the SCO will be held in India in 2020.

The SCO member states agreed to further increase inter-connectivity in such areas as facilities, trade, culture and energy, and build a broad, open, mutually beneficial, win-win and equal space for cooperation in the Eurasian region to ensure reliable, safe and sustainable development, said the communique.

In the communique, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan reaffirmed their overwhelming support for the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

The member states stressed that they should further promote mutually beneficial cooperation within the region, boost economic growth, expand cooperation in areas such as transportation, energy, and industry, step up investment, bolster innovation and modern technology, protect employment, and eradicate poverty said the communique.

They pointed out it is very important to continue to strengthen cooperation in the field of inter-connectivity, encourage innovation in transportation and application of efficient technologies, develop intermodal logistics centres, as well as highways, railways and other types of transportation, and build modern transportation infrastructure, it added.

The SCO member states stressed that improving people's livelihood is one of the priorities of the SCO and vowed to enhance cooperation in areas including trade, industrial capacity, energy, transportation, investment, finance, agriculture, customs, and telecommunications, said the communique.

SCO has some achievements and many countries in the region are tempted to join SCO, like Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Mongolia, Belarus, Indonesia, etc.

But, the biggest challenge of the day for SCO is the Kashmir issue. Kashmir is a disputed territory recognised by United Nation and Security Council has passed resolutions on Kashmir for holding a plebiscite in Kashmir seeking the will of Kashmiri people either to join Pakistan or India. But India has been delaying the implementation of UNSC resolution by using one or other excuse since 1948. Kashmir is a disputed territory among China-India-Pakistan.

Since Aug 5 this year, India has imposed curfew in Kashmir and accessed by force. India has violated its own constitution, Simla Agreement, and UNSC Resolutions. As a result, the situation in the region is very much volatile and at the edge of the big war. It is worth mentioning that India, China, and Pakistan all are nuclear powers and possesses enough pile of nuclear weapons to destroy each other completely. Any escalation may be proved a complete disaster, not for one of two or three countries, but a complete disaster for the whole region, having a serious impact on the whole world.

According to the SCO Charter Clause II, member states are bound to resolve all disputes arising among any two or more member states. SCO has the responsibility to resolve the Kashmir issue and save the region from any adverse consequences. Especially, Russia and China are big powers in SCO and bears more responsibility to avert any big disaster.

Kashmir issue may become a big challenge for SCO and may impact on its credibility. The future expansion of SCO is also linked to the resolution of the Kashmir issue.