Moscow - India and Pakistan, the two observer nations of the Russia-China driven Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) of Central Asian nations, will have to wait for the full membership in the regional grouping until they resolve their territorial dispute, reports said.
"Logically, India and Pakistan, the two regional rivals should be admitted together. But the situation in Pakistan is far from stable and this (full membership) issue has been put aside. Unsettled territorial disputes between India and Pakistan is another obstacle," an unnamed Kremlin source was quoted as saying by influential financial daily ''Vedomosti''.
Moscow was pushing hard for the inclusion of India into the grouping, which also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Currently, India and Pakistan enjoy an observer status along with Mongolia and Iran.
However, after the SCO Astana summit, also attended by External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Moscow seems to have accepted Beijing's logic of simultaneously inducting two South Asian nuclear rivals. Unlike Pakistan and Iran, which have formally applied for SCO membership, India is playing safe and is waiting for the streamlined set of rules for new members.
"Russia backs India," a Russian diplomat was quoted as saying by ''Vedomosti''. "Although Russia hopes to count on India in diluting the Chinese influence in SCO, a Kazakh diplomat said there were mechanisms for each and every member state to pursue its own agenda, while admission of India would add ''one more pole'' and smaller nations “are afraid of losing their voice" the daily said.
According to Alexander Karavayev, deputy chief of the Centre for post-Soviet studies, admission of India in SCO would be the ''most valuable geopolitical asset'' for Moscow. "New Delhi can play the role of counterweight to Beijing’s influence. But such step is difficult to take, keeping in view the serious competition between the two biggest Eurasian powers China and India," Karavayev told.