Saturday, March 2, 2024

SCO-Security Officials Meet and Afghanistan

Immigration News

Ayanangsha Maitra
Ayanangsha Maitra
Ayanangsha Maitra is an independent experienced journalist who contributes to Khaama Press as a freelancer on regional issues covering China, Iran, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan

India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in New Delhi expressed India’s commitment to operationalising Chabahar Port and called for greater cooperation among SCO member states on regional challenges.

In the security representatives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in New Delhi on March 29, India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval showed India’s commitment to operationalizing Chabahar Port and called for greater cooperation among the SCO fraternity to combat regional challenges.

Nikolay Patrushev, Russia’s Secretary of Security Council, blamed and criticized Washington for Afghanistan’s fate. Ahead of holding a counter-terrorism drill Peace Mission in embattled Russia’s Chelyabinsk region, Patrushev took the high-level meeting to criticize NATO and the US military’s presence in the region.

In the SCO security representatives meeting, the security representatives tabled terrorism, illegal arms and drug trafficking, illegal migration and the spread of extremist ideology. Top security officials of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and a representative of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of SCO assembled in New Delhi for the meeting, apart from Patrushev and Ajit Doval.

China’s State Councilor, Minister of Public Security, and Secretary of the National Security Division of Pakistan dialled virtually.

Following Pentagon’s exit, the security scenario is worsening in Afghanistan. The chaos has been growing since August 2021. The US and West and the SCO members like Russia, India and China have pumped billions of money and immense effort into Afghanistan.

But the SCO seems to be divided on the Taliban. A sharp division has emerged in dealing with the Taliban. India and several others have repeatedly vouched for a representative and inclusive government in Kabul.

Security and economic developments in Afghanistan are severe concerns for the SCO countries. Security and economy – these two are not just interconnected but highly interdependent. But very little has progressed in Afghanistan, these two fronts, since the Taliban’s capture of Kabul. 

Apart from the eight members, China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, the inter-governmental organization SCO has observer members Belarus, Iran and Mongolia in addition to Afghanistan. Besides, several dialogue partners like Azerbaijan, Armenia, Egypt, Cambodia, Qatar, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka exist. Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the group as a dialogue partner is expected to be an advantage for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan will always be relevant to the SCO for geographical reasons. And there are certainly some other reasons. The SCO countries are one of Afghanistan’s trading partners.

The instability in Afghanistan will have a ripple effect in the nations of Central Asian states and neighbouring countries. Afghanistan is at the centre of trilateral connectivity initiatives like the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Power Interconnection Project, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Gas Pipeline, and the Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission Project.

These projects will be practical and operational – only when some stability returns in Afghanistan. Religious extremists like Al Qaeda or Daesh may influence extremist outfits in Central Asian countries.

On the other hand, relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are in shambles, primarily due to the Durand line and TTP issues. China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan – the four SCO nations are immediate neighbours of the war-rigged Afghanistan.

The rest of the SCO states have strong links with the war-torn nation, but the SCO has not accepted Afghanistan’s repeated request to be a full member since 2015. Kabul was late to extend its request to Russia and China-led inter-governmental groups due to its deep ties with Washington back then.

Under the Ghani administration, Afghanistan attempted to be a full member of the SCO. Its main objectives were to ensure security and engage more with the SCO nations economically. Nevertheless, Kabul considered SCO an effective tool to boost ties with Russia and China when Ghani-administration contemplated multi-alignment foreign policy.  

The revival of the SCO-Afghan Contact Group in 2018 was adequate, but its function and responsibility must be revised. When several terror outfits and jostling for power and the Taliban administration remain unrecognized, the meeting of the security representatives of the SCO countries is highly significant for the future of Afghanistan.

As the SCO boasts of being the world’s largest and leading regional organization, the organization should take more responsibility for bringing back peace and the flow of the economy in Afghanistan. The SCO’s members, observers and dialogue partners should be on the same page regarding Afghanistan.  

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