Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

SCO Summit in Tashkent

A meeting of the Heads of States Council of the Shangai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is going to be held on June 23 – 24, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. This summit is going to bring together the heads of states of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The organization is expected to highlight its Jubilee Summit marking the organization’s 15th year in its present form.
SCO summit was basically founded in 2001 by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan is not a member of SCO but it was given an observer status at the 2012 SCO summit in Beijing on June 06, 2012. Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia were also given observer status in the organization. Pakistan and India, however, are going to accede full membership status in this SCO summit as SCO agreed on their full membership. The main objectives of SCO include strengthening friendly ties among regional states, maintenance of peace, stability and security in the region, building a new, just and rational international political and economic order, launch joint efforts in combating terrorism, extremism, separatism and the menace of narcotic substances.
Afghanistan’s relations with regional countries are undoubtedly very important. If it wants to be successful in the post withdrawal era, it has to tighten the ties with all the regional countries particularly, with China and Russia. Full membership of SCO can support Afghanistan in having better role in the Organization and at the same time take more advantages of cooperation and interdependence with the member countries.
Currently, Afghanistan is going through some very serious challenges regarding growing insecurity in different parts of the country. Taliban insurgents have continued their fighting in month of Ramadan as well and they have been able to gain the control of different districts in different provinces of the country. The northern parts of the country that used to be comparatively peaceful are now the main targets of the insurgents and certain districts in Kunduz, Badakhshan, Baghlan, Jawzjan and Faryab have come under their control. In recent weeks, even the capital Kabul has experienced some very threatening attacks even in the most guarded parts of the city.
At the same time, the threats of growing number of Daesh (IS) recruits are also alarming. In order to face the dual challenge of fighting both Taliban and Daesh, Afghanistan would definitely require support from the regional countries, in particular. The SCO members can play a positive role in this regard and their dedicated attention concerning the growing insecurity in Afghanistan is of immense importance. Particularly, China and Russia can be of massive support in this connection. Both the countries have accepted the fact that the growth of Daesh in Afghanistan can be a regional threat, and they have also emphasized on a strategy to combat this threat. If this emphasis is turned into practical steps, it would greatly support in disheartening Daesh’s growth in Afghanistan. Moreover, it is essential to see how the leaders of regional countries discuss the security issues being faced by Afghanistan in this SCO meeting.
In similar fashion, to control the threat of Taliban and to support Afghanistan in making peace talks successful with them, the worth of regional countries cannot be denied. Afghanistan, to a large extent, has relied on the role of Pakistan in this regard. President Ghani in the beginning of his government strived for improved relations with Pakistan and emphasized on its role in holding peace talks with Taliban. Pakistan on the other hand showed willingness in this regard as well. Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) was formed for the same purpose and some sessions of this Groups were held but they did not bear the desired fruits. While these meetings were being held, certain misunderstandings developed between Afghanistan and Pakistan, particularly, after the news of the death of Mullah Omar and then the deadly attacks in Kabul on National Directorate of Security. Afghanistan blamed Pakistan for not keeping its promises that were made in first QCG meeting and also blamed it for providing refuge to the Taliban network that is responsible for terrorism in Afghanistan. Recently, the border issue at Torkham has further dealt a blow to immediate possibilities of cooperation in this respect.
It is really imperative for the regional countries, especially SCO, to see the problem of insecurity in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a collective issue and must cooperate so that the issue is addressed properly and on time. They seem to realize that they require acting collectively to face this threat but it is important that they must be able to put in practice comprehensive strategy to tackle the situation. Words and promises alone have never and would never solve the issue of terrorism and insurgency. Practical solutions are the only way out of the quagmire that can swallow the whole region in no time. The leaders of the world in this SCO meeting have to keep this important fact in consideration for better and effective cooperation.