Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Seeking Common Ground and Addressing Common Challenges via CICA

The 5th summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), hosted by Tajikistan, is significant for mitigating challenges across the region and building mutual trust and mutual understanding between member states.
A number of challenges loom large in the region. The issue of terrorism as well as political rivalries are highly perilous. Terrorism is a common threat to all nations across the globe, and Asian states are particularly vulnerable to threats posed by terrorist networks, including l-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban. That is, a large number of people, women and children included, lose their lives as a result of terrorist attacks.
Second, political rivalries across the region, notably in the Middle East, also jeopardize regional security and push the countries to confrontation. Rivalries, which are most likely to stem from self-interests, will be conducive to conflict leaving no room for mutual trust.
With this in mind, regional and global conferences are necessary to provide a platform for communication and dialogue among nations so that they could address the common challenges, combat common enemy, and build mutual trust.
Addressing the summit in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, Afghan CEO Abdullah Abdullah said that the security threats posed by the terrorist activities were still the main challenge for their countries and the region. Deteriorating security conditions pose a serious challenge to development and economic cooperation. He added that addressing the common challenges and threats required great collective efforts and more sincere cooperation. According to him the region needed to strengthen security and stability and to bring peace and prosperity to their people in a spirit of regionalism and togetherness.
It is self-explanatory that Afghanistan has been the main victim of terrorism in Asia and paid heavy sacrifices as a result of terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, Afghan soldiers made great sacrifices in combating terrorism. Being frustrated with the conflict, both Afghan nation and state expect the international community to support Afghanistan in combating terrorism as well as peace process. The Afghan government has been urging neighboring countries, regional stakeholders, and global powers to support Afghanistan’s peace process.
Attending the second round of the non-governmental forum of CICA on June 28, 2017, in Beijing, I suggested two main solutions for mitigating the persistent militancy: First, it would be highly effective if the clergy of the state members form a religious committee to campaign against terrorism through oral and written preaches. That is, clerics, mainly from Islamic countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc., issue fatwa (religious decree) so as to condemn terrorist acts and publish monthly magazines for enlightening the true spirit of Islam and supporting religious tolerance.
Indeed, mullahs and muftis in the mentioned countries carry much weight for Islamic societies and their fatwa and preach against extremism will reduce terrorism to a great extent.
Second, traditional mechanism for combating modern terrorism would not succeed to tackle the issue. The world should reinforce intelligence, exchange intelligence information, and engage actively in cyberspace to combat insurgency. 
It should be noted that the objectives of CICA are to promote the spirit of co-existence, resolve disputes through communication rather than confrontation, enhance tolerance and regional cooperation, and stress the role of diplomatic approach for gaining peace and stability rather than persistent enforcement of power. Hence, the member states have to play active role in achieving the CICA objectives so as to mitigate regional threats and challenges and pave the ground for building a moderately prosperous society for mankind.
The CICA conference was conducted in Tajikistan just after the 19th summit of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was hosted by Kyrgyzstan, in which President Ghani participated. The SCO summit also puts much weight for bringing nations closer, smoothing the path for common ground and regional cooperation, and tackling common challenges. Regional stability and combating terrorism were also discussed by SCO member states, observers, and dialogue partners. The participants urged regional and global cooperation and building mutual trust.
CICA members and all SCO stakeholders have to step up their cooperation for mitigating the regional and global challenges, mainly the three evil forces of terrorism, separatism, and extremism. They should not end up with only talks and speeches, but take more practical steps. The two summits should have a direct and tangible results for the region. If member states simply gather and deliver speeches without being actively engaged in reducing challenges, it will be disappointing. Thus, they have to draw a roadmap for tackling the challenges and each country should be tasked to achieve a certain point or goal each year and report it to the member states in their annual summits.