China has expressed the hope that Pakistan and India will keep their bilateral hostility out of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Times of India reported.
Pakistan and India formally joined the SCO at its summit in Astana, Kazakhastan, last week in the first such expansion of the now eight-member group. A ceremony to formally welcome the two countries to the bloc was held at the SCO headquarters in Beijing on Thursday.
Dismissing apprehensions by state-run Chinese media regarding the possibility of SCO's unity being disrupted by inclusion of India and Pakistan, China's Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said he believed "both the countries will abide by the charter of the organisation".
The charter states "that the hostility between the bilateral relations should not be brought to the organisation," he told reporters at the ceremony.
"Between our member states, our interests far outweigh our differences. So, we should not exaggerate the differences between the countries as it is not good for the organisation and cooperation between member states. After becoming members, we all become members of the big family," Kong said.
He said China welcomes the inclusion of the two neighbouring nuclear powers to SCO.
"As a founding member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, we are very happy about the membership of India and Pakistan."
China believes the entry of India and Pakistan "will guarantee very good cooperation in the organisation," he added.
During the ceremony, the flags of new members Pakistan and India were hoisted, a press release issued by the Pakistan Embassy in Beijing said.
Pakistan's Ambassador to China Masood Khalid and his Indian counterpart attended the ceremony which concluded with the “Shanghai Spirit Drum” being hit by the envoys, the press release said.
Terming the inclusion in the SCO as "the start of a new journey for Pakistan" Khalid pledged to work for a shared vision of common development.
"We are part of the region. As far as Pakistan is concerned we will make all possible efforts to promote peace and stability in the region and work together as active partners within the SCO to pursue common objectives of development, peace and security. I think [it is a] historic day that way," Khalid told the Press Trust of India.
He said that the SCO is a multilateral platform which will provide opportunities for interaction between India and Pakistan.
Prompted about the SCO's role in dispute resolution between the two countries, the Indian Ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale stressed the importance of bilateral channels.
"We are having number of bilateral channels. I see this as another opportunity and a platform. It helps because it enhances number of points of contacts. I think it is a good day for both the countries," he said.