Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

SCO Must Play a Role in Peacebuilding in Afghanistan

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah attended Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Russia. During the meeting on Friday, he called on the SCO members states to support Afghanistan in the war against terrorism and play their role in bringing the militant groups in Afghanistan to negotiation table. He said in his statement, “We call upon SCO member states to use their leverage and contacts with armed Afghan militant groups to urge them so that they enter into intra-Afghan talks.” He also called for full membership of Afghanistan in the organization.
SCO is gaining importance as an organization that is aimed at promulgating trade, economic, humanitarian and security cooperation and support among the South Asian and Central Asian countries. SCO summit was basically founded in 2001 by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan was given an observer status at the 2012 SCO summit in Beijing on June 06, 2012. Pakistan and India were, in June 2017, granted full membership status as well, while Iran and Mongolia and Belarus, like Afghanistan, have observer status in the organization. Though Afghanistan has been seeking full membership of the organization, it has not been able to do so, so far. There are hopes that SCO can play an important role in Afghanistan regarding security and economic development.
Currently, Afghanistan is going through some very serious challenges regarding growing insecurity. Taliban insurgents have continued their fighting more fiercely 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 the north have come under their control. Even the capital Kabul has experienced some very threatening attacks in the most guarded parts of the city.
At the same time, the threats of growing number of Daesh attacks 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 regarding the growing insecurity in Afghanistan is of immense importance. Both Russia and China 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 immensely support in disheartening Daesh’s growth in Afghanistan.
China, in particular, can have a dominant role in the peacebuilding in Afghanistan. One of the most important support regarding security would be initiation of peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban. A serious negotiation between Afghan government and Taliban is really crucial at the moment. China can play its role in further streamlining this 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.
In similar fashion, to control the threat of Taliban and to support Afghanistan in making peace talks successful, Afghanistan, to a large extent, relied on the role of Pakistan. 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 also showed some willingness in the beginning; however, later on the developments showed that there were evident shortcomings in that regard. Therefore, the relations between both the countries, once again, took a U-turn and today they stand at a point where the hopes of a meaningful cooperation regarding security and terrorism in near future are not very bright.  

It is really imperative for the regional countries to see the problem of insecurity in Afghanistan as an issue that can disturb the whole region 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.