Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 18th, 2019

SCO – A Hope for Afghanistan

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tashkent gives Afghanistan some confidence in its fight against terrorism, as the regional countries consider the security situation in Afghanistan as one of the most important issues. They have also shown their consent that they will support Afghanistan in the war against terrorism.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a statement on Friday June 24, 2016 that SCO can play a constructive role to help Afghans in their quest to restore peace and stability in the country.
Tajikistan's President Imam Ali Rahman, also, laid strong emphasis on the establishment of longstanding peace and stability in Afghanistan and said that stability in Afghanistan was in the interests of the entire region and the world.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev also pledged his country's support to Afghanistan and said that they would undertake the renovation of Afghan forces' helicopters.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov invited Ghani to visit Turkmenistan in the near future so that the countries besides inaugurating the Aqina railway link also sign the Lajaward transit route agreement.
There is no doubt in the fact that SCO can support Afghanistan in multiple ways particularly in facing security challenges. Currently, there has been an upsurge in insecurity in different parts of the country and there are fears that Afghan security forces would face a Herculean task to guarantee security. The enemy forces have multiplied since the rise of Daesh in some of the provinces. The previously peaceful parts of the country have turned into battle fields and there does not seem to be any clear indications of restoration of peace or peace talks with Taliban. Afghanistan at this stance requires sincere support from the regional countries but particularly from China.
Chinese support to Afghanistan has come in different forms. There are various assistance and support projects sponsored by China that are going on in Afghanistan. They are related to different sectors; like economic, infra-structure development, education and security. However, China would have to continue their support or even enhance that as Afghanistan is trying to stand on its own. The most important sector would be security. Since most of the international forces have withdrawn from Afghanistan and Afghan security forces are shouldering the security responsibilities themselves, they would require tremendous support from China.
One of the most important support regarding security would be initiation of peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban. Whether that happens under the platform of Quadrilateral Cooperation Group (QCG) or SCO, a serious negotiation between both the parties is really crucial. China can play its role in further streamlining the QCG process and eliminate the differences between Afghanistan and Pakistan so that they are able to cooperate more closely for making negotiations possible.  
China can also play its dominating role in SCO to start a formal process for a lasting peace in Afghanistan. It can involve the regional countries in this regard so that they collectively design a comprehensive support strategy to deal with the threats of terrorism in Afghanistan. Apart from assisting Afghan security forces to face the enemies they can also support Afghanistan in governance and development sectors so that they are able to pursue long-term strategies for establishing peace and tranquility. Support in the form of assistance for strengthening the weak political and social institutions in Afghanistan would also prove to be vital for solidifying Afghan government and its nascent democracy and make them capable enough to stand strong.
SCO, thus, requires to keep on its spirit and dedication for resolving the regional issues. It can best function if it follows the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s five-point proposal in the times to come. These points suggest that SCO should remain open and transparent without targeting any third party, engage all like-minded international partners in wide-ranging cooperation and act as a constructive force for the healthy development of the international order. Secondly, the SCO should continue to prioritize security and cement this foundation of the SCO development and it needs to beef up the institutional construction for cooperation on combating terrorism and drug trafficking. Thirdly, SCO should expand practical cooperation and find greater space for SCO development and there are hopes that the organization will play an active role in aligning the Belt and Road Initiative and the other members' development strategies. Fourthly, the SCO also needs to enhance culture and people-to-people foundation as the bridge for future development, and China is willing to support other member states in restoring historical sites and archaeology studies, as well as communication and cooperation in such fields as youth, health care and environmental protection. Last but not the least, the SCO should continue to uphold openness and inclusiveness and get more parties on board for SCO cooperation. He also proposed that the member states take the process of accepting India and Pakistan as new members to enhance institutional building of the SCO and expand and deepen cooperation in various fields.