Shanghai Cooperation Organization And Afghanistan

Shanghai Cooperation Organization And Afghanistan


Shanghai Cooperation Organization And Afghanistan

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit is scheduled for September 17 in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. India, Russia and China will have to carry out close coordination with key countries in the region like Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and even Pakistan, who are also SCO members to deal with the challenges from the latest situation in Afghanistan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a phone conversation with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on Tuesday that China is ready to work with Tajikistan to build a community of development with rich connotation and an indestructible community of security. Tajikistan is a neighbor to Afghanistan, and some 30 percent of the population in Afghanistan is Tajiks, the second-biggest ethnic group following the Pashtuns (about 40 percent). Both Tajikistan and India have a very close relationship.

The SCO leaders have to make A common stand on the situation in Afghanistan and must agree to continue deepening counter-terrorism and security cooperation and jointly maintain regional security and stability.

In case the Taliban fail to show inclusiveness in the new government, it will offend its neighbors like Tajikistan, Iran and Uzbekistan as they all have compatriots or people with the same ethnic or religious identity in Afghanistan, so this is why China keeps urging the Taliban to be inclusive in forming a government. 

 Pakistan, which is also a SCO member, has close ties with the Afghan Taliban, and the Taliban also expressed that it wants to participate in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and to be connected with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, so Pakistan will have a major role to play.

However India’s role will be much more principled, as It has taken a considered decision of not dealing closely with terrorists and their backers. Even in the new situation it is not worried its investments and making money out of misery of the Afghan people like China and Pakistan.. New Delhi might consider strengthening supports for infrastructure development if Taliban shed their extremism.

India also has to worry about terrorism infiltrating anew in Kashmir with active support of Pakistan and indirect support of China. However China too should start worrying about Xinjiang in earnest, as in all likely hood terrorism us bound to be exported their via Pakistan and with support of Pakistan.

An expert on counterterrorism and Afghan affairs in Beijing, who asked to remain anonymous, said that “due to the previous terrorist attacks at the Kabul airport, the IS-Khorasan is the terrorist group that the Taliban can decide to cut off, but the Taliban is unlikely to deal with all terrorists in Afghanistan with the same standard.”

“The Taliban may keep some terrorists in the country as bargaining chips to make deals with other neighboring countries and major powers worldwide, so it is unrealistic to expect the Taliban to have a clear and absolute cutoff with all terrorists in Afghanistan at this moment,” according to the expert.

The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is a major concern for China and the Taliban is fully aware Of it.

Prioritize internal affairs

The political structure of the interim government shows the Taliban want to ensure its political dominance and absolute control in the country and it means the Taliban at this stage will prioritize solving internal problems rather than responding to expectations from the international community.

Although the key positions of the interim government are dominated by Taliban members, the Taliban might share some grass-root positions with non-Taliban forces in the country.

Some of these Taliban senior members are on the UN sanctions list, which remains a major concern for the international community and also increases the difficulty for this interim government to be recognized and restore normal international exchanges. It will be difficult for the Taliban Government to establish ties with US and other major Western countries.

Mullah Hasan Akhund has been announced as prime minister of Afghanistan’s caretaker government on Tuesday, with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Abdul Salam Hanafi named as the acting deputy prime ministers, media reported.

Sarajuddin Haqqani, son of the founder of the Haqqani network which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, will be the acting interior minister, the Taliban’s main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, informed during a news conference in Kabul. Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of the late Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, was appointed acting defense minister. All these appointments are for an interim government, Mujahid told a news conference in Kabul.

Who lead #Afghanistan’s interim government? Graphic: Feng Qingyin/GT

Who lead Afghanistan’s interim government? Graphic: Feng Qingyin/GT

It was not clear what role in the interim government would be played by Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban supreme leader. He has not been seen or heard in public since the collapse of the Western-backed government and the seizure of Kabul last month, Reuters reported.

When governing major cities like Kabul, the Taliban at this moment urgently needs capital, which is made worse due to the sanctions imposed by the West. The shortage of foreign reserves and obstacles in restoring normal exchanges with the outside world mean the country is facing a humanitarian crisis, said a Chinese expert on Afghan studies in Beijing who asked not to be named. 

“The US should consider being pragmatic to prioritize the interests of the local people, and remove unnecessary sanctions against the country, or those sanctions would cause crisis to harm local ordinary people. Otherwise the stability won’t be sustainable and sooner or later the country will return to be a safe haven of terrorist groups,” he said.