THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 18 January 2020 (Seize the summit (Indian Express))

Seize the summit (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 2:- International Relations
Prelims level:- Shanghai Co-operation Organisation
Mains level:- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India


  • India that it will invite all heads of government of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation member countries, including Pakistan.

Significance of the invitation:

  • The summit will assume significance should Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan accept the invitation.
  • As it will be the first by a head of government or state of that country to India since former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.
  • The hope of that visit was belied. This attempts to engage failed, including at a previous SCO summit at Ufa in 2015. The last year has seen relations nosedive from their already low levels.

Recent events evolved the reduction of engagement:

  • Pulwama attack: First, there was the February 2019 Pulwama attack, India’s Balakot response, and Pakistan’s counter-response.
  • Article 370: After India did away with Jammu & Kashmir’s special status, India and Pakistan have downgraded even their diplomatic presence in each other’s countries, by withdrawing the high commissioners.
  • Stopped trading: Bilateral trade, which had managed to survive earlier shocks to relations, has stopped completely. That the opening of the Kartarpur corridor took place in this setting was miraculous, but that too was touch and go.

Challenges presented in SCO summit:

  • Inputs of all stakeholders: In deciding whether to accept the invitation, the Pakistan PM will have to take into consideration.
  • A polite way of saying that the final yes or no will rest with the Pakistan Army.
  • General Qamar Javed Bajwa appears to have pushed back dissenters in the Army, but his continuance beyond the court-stipulated six months is still up in the air.
  • The world wants India and Pakistan to engage, and this was evident in the way the UNSC refused to take up the Kashmir issue, saying it was not the forum for it.
  • India, which has declared several times recently that it wants to peel away from historical foreign policy baggage.
  • India should make a start with Pakistan by making it possible for such a meeting to take place — or, make it easier for the Pakistan Prime Minister to accept the invitation.
  • A start could be made by resuming trade, which has ground to a dead halt, and by sending India’s High Commissioner back to his office in Islamabad.

Way forward:

  • However, it would still be a chance for a high-level bilateral meeting.
  • Such a meeting may not lead to anything — the Ufa meeting produced a joint declaration, but Sharif had to walk back from it.
  • Such meetings also become the focus of speculation cloaked in the new nationalism, which turns them into who-won-the-match events, almost setting them up for failure. But the hiatus in ties cannot endure.

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Prelims Questions:

Q1. With reference to the fundamental rights, consider the following statements:
1. The Tripura High Court has recently ordered that social media posting is a fundamental right.
2. The Supreme Court has recently declared that access to the internet is not a fundamental right protected under Article 19 of the Constitution.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: A
Mains Questions:

Q1. Describe the highlights of SCO meetings. How it became crucial for the relationship between both India and Pakistan?