Dr Ahmad Rashid Malik President Asif Ali Zardari has attended the six-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) two-day summit held in the Russian Far Eastern city of Yekaterinburg on June 15-16. It was the ninth regular summit meeting of the SCO, which was founded nine years ago in June 2001 on the basis of the Shanghai Five of 1996. SCO is an intergovernmental and inter-state grouping to enhance regional cooperation in a multiple area, where Pakistan holds an Observer status on SCO along with India, Iran, and Mongolia, while China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan are full members of the organisation. Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are neither its members nor observers because of their own foreign policy stances. In a bid to further enlarge the geographical scope of the organisation, Belarus and Sri Lanka were accorded the status of dialogue partners at the Yekaterinburg Summit. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for member expansion by enhancing the observers' status for India, Pakistan, Mongolia, and Iran to full membership. Being close to the region and especially to China, Pakistan cannot afford to ignore developments taking place in the Chinese-led regional initiative. Other concerns also cannot be ignored. Pakistan is regional potential energy partner and energy and transportation corridor by providing sea access to a large number of SCO and ECO regional landlocked countries. This made Pakistan to keep observing developments in the context of SCO for its future benefits. The sole purpose of Pakistan's participation at the SCO aims at improving ties with Russia. Pakistan's ties with China already present a model of friendship for other countries. Moreover, Pakistan has warm and growing economic relations with all Central Asian countries. SCO provides a vast opportunity to Pakistan to participate in the activities of organisation as observer and a potential economic and strategic partner in the Eurasia region. Regional security and counter-terrorism are important areas of constructive consultation and cooperation among SCO partners. The growing financial and economic turmoil also attracted the attention of the leaders of the SCO at Yekaterinburg. The SCO at Yekaterinburg provided an opportunity to President Zardari to renew commitment with the Chinese President Hu Jintao, to exchange views with Russian President Medvedev, to discuss matters of friendship with Uzbek President Islam Karimov, Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbaye, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev, and Tajik President Emonali Rakhmon. The SCO Summit also brought President Zardari with Indian recently re-elected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to break the ice soured by the Mumbai attacks last November. President Zardari's meetings with the newly re-elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and the First Prime Minister of the Mongolian Government Norovyn Altanhuyag helped improve bilateral and regional understandings with them. The President of Pakistan also discussed a number of matters with the Afghan President Hamid Karzai who attended the Summit as one of the invitees besides heads of other international organisations. This permitted other leaders to discuss global terrorism and measures to eradicate the menace, drug trafficking, and organised crimes in Afghanistan that affect other regional countries in a big way. Being part of the region, SCO provides basic measures of practicality in finding solutions to the three decade-long Afghan crisis. United, NATO, and EU should coordinate with SCO to bring a comprehensive and lasting peace in war-toned Afghanistan. In this regard, the SCO Summit at Yekaterinburg intended to generate a widespread consensus toward the Afghan crisis at a crucial time when the crisis has the apprehensions to spread to other parts such as India and the Gulf after badly jolting Pakistan. Russia is working on a parallel strategic power and financial grounds to weaken the supremacy of the United States and Europe. For this purpose, Russia is also sponsoring a group of countries comprising of rapidly developing states and large economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, to be known as BRIC to boost the stature of the group as an influential powerbroker in world politics, besides playing a crucial role in a number of regional grouping to influence international power politics. The group is supposed to represent 15 percent world's GDP, US$ 60 trillion world economy, and US$ 3 trillion of world currency reserves. The proposed group would fill in several of gaps in countering the US and EU-led regional power blocs. On the sideline of the SCO, the first BRIC Summit commenced to discuss global financial crisis and currency reserves issue. This appears to be a new mechanism of settling the on-going world's financial and economic crisis. It is expected that the traditional Western financial supremacy would trim down. The group sends a message of concern to the United States, Europe, and Japan, and their international financial institutions. The group intends to create a fairer world economic order and intends to use national currencies for doing trade with each other especially Russian rubble and Chinese yuan will be used for bilateral trade between Russia and China to lessen dependence on US dollar. Russia-China bilateral trade stood around US$ 57 billion in 2008, which is likely to increase up to US$ 80 billion next year. Both countries have already brokered US$ 100 billion energy contacts to meet Chinese growing energy needs. Uzbekistan, one of the founding members of the SCO, presents a model of development for other countries in wake of global financial crisis by focussing on a gradual industrialisation and market-led programme on the basic of socially-motivated economic development under the guidance of its founding leader Karimov. Other members of the SCO and the proposed BRIC should emulate the Uzbek model of cautious and prudent economic development to ease financial stresses and rebuild the economies. China is also an impressive founding member of the SCO. It is playing a leadership role in easing the global financial crisis. At the Summit, China offered US$ 10 billion credit to SCO members to overcome their financial woes. It is understandable that if regional countries continue to face economic crunches, it would also affect the Chinese trade and business. Therefore, enhancing the capacity level of regional economies is essential to keep strengthening the Chinese economy for mutual advantages. With the exception of China and Uzbekistan, other regional members and observers are facing severe economic crunches. The SCO Yekaterinburg declaration pledged greater unity, increased economic cooperation, firm resolve to combat terrorism, tackling global financial and economic crisis besides building an equitable global financial system, ensuring energy and food security. The SCO now stands between the Shanghai Five and BRIC or from borders skirmishes settlement to global financial crisis management with China playing the core role in financial and with Russia keep extending strategic bowl to other prospective partners. What exactly SCO stands for as an extra-regional organisation, still has to come. SCO still lacks trust among its partners. Illusion is not all over. Terrorism still originates from within SCO region, in addition to extra-territorial involvement by outside powers. So far SCO has made inroads mainly in regional expansionism and not in real economic integration. Mere rhetoric to counter-terrorism in SCO summit declarations would not pay much especially to terrorism victim states such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. The end of this menace would lead to framing a regional economic union. Probably, for observers this is the main reason for staying as observers instead of not seeking full membership yet. Such kind of trust has to be achieved in order to make SCO a real bulwark against terrorism, countering insurgency, and separatism in the vast Eurasia region. Remapping geographical areas without concrete economic integration would turn the table other way round. SCO is no longer an infant grouping. Since the Shanghai Five, leaders met thirteen times. It is a time to deliver. The writer is a research fellow (East Asia) at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI)