The world transformed and nobody in the West noticed. India and Pakistan have joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The 17 year-old body since its founding on June 15, 2001 has quietly established itself as the main alliance and grouping of nations across Eurasia. Now it has expanded from six nations to eight, and the two new members are the giant nuclear-armed regional powers of South Asia, India, with a population of 1.324 billion and Pakistan, with 193.2 million people (both in 2016).
In other words, the combined population of the SCO powers or already well over 1.5 billion has virtually doubled at a single stroke.
The long-term global consequences of this development are enormous. It is likely to prove the single most important factor insuring peace and removing the threat of nuclear war over South Asia and from 20 percent of the human race. It now raises the total population of the world in the eight SCO nations to 40 percent, including one of the two most powerful thermonuclear armed nations (Russia) and three other nuclear powers (China, India and Pakistan).
The accession of both India and Pakistan to the SCO is also a stunning repudiation of the United States.
US-Pakistan relations have steadily deteriorated even since the United States charged into Afghanistan in November 2001, but through it all, US policymakers have always taken for granted that Islamabad at the end of the day would “stay on the reservation” and ultimately dance to their tune.
The United States has courted India for 17 years since President Bill Clinton’s state visit in 2000, which I covered in his press party. Current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a Joint Session of Congress in 2016, the ultimate accolade of approval by the US political establishment for any foreign leader.
However, what we have seen following this latest epochal development is far more extraordinary. The decisions by Delhi and Islamabad have not been praised, condemned or even acknowledged in the mainstream of US political and strategic debate. They have just been entirely ignored. To see the leaders and opinion-shapers of a major superpower that still imagines it is the dominant hyper-power conduct its affairs in this way is potentially worrying and alarming.