Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, September 23rd, 2019

SCO Summit – A Platform for Addressing Regional Instability

President Ghani’s participation in the 19th summit of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), hosted by Kyrgyzstan, and his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders are likely to step up achieving regional consensus for Afghanistan peace process.
Afghan President and his Chinese counterparts reportedly discussed China’s role in Afghan peace process, regional cooperation, anti-terror efforts, and regional connectivity. Meeting with Ghani, Xi is cited as saying that Chinese side firmly supported a comprehension and inclusive Afghan-led and owned peace and reconciliation process and continued to promote talks through various channels to hold the Afghan people achieve internal dialogue.
Xi added that China would support Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve mutual ties, enhance mutual trust, and carry out cooperation. China, he said, was ready to further promote the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral cooperation. 
President Ghani thanked China for the active role it had played in Afghanistan’s peace process and safeguarded regional peace and stability. He added that Afghanistan was ready to align its plan of reconstruction and development with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and set up a closer trade and economic partnership with China.
Speaking at the summit on Friday, President Ghani pointed out four issues for Afghanistan’s peace and stability: (1) Formation of regional and global coalition for peace and stability. (2) Formation of reginal task force for the development of bankable programs and projects for regional connectivity and poverty alleviation. (3) Addressing narcotics, as a driver of conflict and criminality, within the peace making and peace-building framework. (4) Agreeing to a regional framework for fighting terrorism.
Adhering to the principle of mutual respect, China has played a constructive role in Afghanistan’s peace process, mainly through bridging the gap between Kabul and Islamabad. To cement ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan, China established China-Afghanistan-Pakistan foreign ministers’ dialogue. Meanwhile, China was one of the members of the Quadrilateral Coordination group, besides Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the US, to support peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Realizing the good intention of Beijing, Afghan nation and state have constantly appreciated its positive role. In the 18th SCO Heads of State summit held in China, the SCO signed a protocol with the Afghan government – which is an SCO observer state along with Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia – to establish the Afghan Contact Group to support the country for building a stable and violence-free Afghanistan.
It is believed that the regular SCO summit will promote regional stability and enhance regional interaction in terms of trade and connectivity, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people contacts. All SCO member and observer states and dialogue partners have to take more practical step towards regional peace and stability, building infrastructure, and enhancing economic activities through adhering to the principles of openness, inclusiveness, and “Shanghai Spirit”.
The goals and tasks of the SCO are pointed out in Article 1 of its Charter as, “Strengthening mutual trust, friendship and good neighborliness between the member states; development of multifaceted cooperation in the maintenance and strengthening of peace, security and stability in the region and promotion of a new democratic, fair and rational political and economic international order; joint combating terrorism, separatism and extremism in all their manifestations, fighting against illicit narcotics and arms trafficking and other types of transnational criminal activity, etc.” With this in mind, the tasks and objectives of the SCO are highly extensive. Thus, it has to prioritize the issues in need of immediate address.  
For instance, the three evil forces of terrorism, separatism, and extremism have to be addressed first and all SCO stakeholders need to join forces to put an end to terrorist activities across the region since terrorism has changed into a regional threat.
If the issue of terrorism is not addressed forthwith, security situation will hamper trade and transit, mainly the smooth implementation of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
Overall, achieving regional consensus for supporting regional stability in general and Afghanistan’s security in particular needs to be considered by SCO stakeholders. The SCO participants have to support Afghanistan in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency and back the intra-Afghan dialogue. The Afghan government has always appreciated the constructive role of regional states and neighboring countries in peace issues and still calls on them to continue their support in this regard.
Since Afghan soldiers and civilians have paid heavy sacrifices in combating terrorism and achieving peace and stability, security issues remain the top priority for the Afghan government and should be a top priority for the SCO members, too.
In short, all SCO stakeholders have to pave the ground for mutual trust and mutual benefit, seek common ground, combat the common enemy, and adhere to the Shanghai Spirit.