A four-day meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO’s) Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure or RATS started here in the national capital on Monday amid the presence of a three-member Pakistani delegation among other foreign dignitaries from seven other countries.
Headed by a Director-level official of the Pakistani Foreign Affairs Ministry, this is the first delegation from the neighboring country to visit India since a new government took charge in Islamabad recently under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
The participants of all nine members of the SCO grouping took part in the meeting scheduled between May 16-19. The SCO grouping comprises Russia, China and India. Besides this, Pakistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, are also part of the grouping.
The meeting assumes significance due to an existing terror network in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and the threat of narcotics smuggling.
SCO’s RATS, based in Tashkent, is a permanent body of the grouping for countering terrorism, extremism, and separatism in the Eurasian region.
India is the current chair of the executive council of SCO RATS. Director of SCO RATS Mirzaev Ruslan Erkinovich visited India earlier this year and held talks with NSA Ajit Doval and the Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi.
India will be hosting the SCO RATS council meeting this October. New Delhi has also proposed holding SCO joint anti-terrorist exercise in Manesar this year.
The SCO is one of the largest plurilateral, covering around 40 percent of the global population and 30 percent of the global GDP.
Uzbekistan is the SCO chair in 2022 and will hold the summit in September. India will hold the SCO summit next year.