The SCO’s Dushanbe summit comes at a crucial time, held amid the troubling developments in Afghanistan and as countries in the region recalibrate their diplomatic positions accordingly, and observe others’ takes on ‘recognising’ the militant group which is now in control of the war-torn country. The SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, is an eight-member economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017. The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had also met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and discussed the border row with him on the sidelines of the summit. Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in his address to the SCO said that a “new reality" has been established in Afghanistan it is now in the international community’s collective interest to ensure that there is no renewed conflict and the security situation is stabilised. At the summit, which is being held in the backdrop of the India-China border tensions, China also called for a “normalised" handling of the border instead of an “emergency response".
Who Said What at the SCO Summit:
PM Modi pitched for developing a common template by the SCO to fight radicalisation, saying it is a challenge to peace, security and trust deficit in the region as reflected by recent developments in Afghanistan. In a virtual address at the annual SCO summit, Modi also called for enhancing connectivity between the landlocked Central Asian countries and India but at the same time noted that connectivity projects should be consultative, transparent and they should be implemented while respecting the territorial integrity of all countries.
The prime minister talked about Sufism and the cultural heritage of Central Asia, and said on the basis of this historical heritage, the SCO should develop a common template to fight radicalisation and extremism. “The 20th anniversary of the SCO is also a suitable occasion to think about the future of the SCO. I believe that the biggest challenges in this area are related to peace, security and trust deficit and the root cause of these problems is increasing radicalisation," the prime minister said. Later, the PM’s statement on Afghanistan called for a ‘thoughtful, collective’ global decision on recognising the Taliban government. He said the events in Afghanistan have affected the country’s neighbours the most.
“The developments in Afghanistan should be as inclusive as possible. Women and minorities need to be protected," the PM said, amid concerns of the militant group curbing women’s rights in a strict compliance of the Sharia law as seen during their previous regime. PM Modi’s statement came at the 21st SCO-CHS Summit in Tajikistan capital, Dushanbe. The Prime Minister said the change of power in Afghanistan happened without negotiation, and that questions arise on the acceptability of the new system. Representation of all sections of Afghanistan including women and minorities is important, he said.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that a “new reality" has been established in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of power in Kabul and it is now in the international community’s collective interest to ensure that there is no renewed conflict and the security situation is stabilised in the war-torn country. Pakistan, which had suffered due to the spillover of conflict and instability in Afghanistan, had an interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper. Prime Minister Khan said that a “new reality" had been established in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover and withdrawal of foreign troops.
“That all this happened without bloodshed, without civil war and without mass exodus of refugees, should be a matter of relief. “It is now in the international community’s collective interest to ensure that there is no renewed conflict in Afghanistan and the security situation is stabilised," he said. Khan said it was imperative to give Afghanistan humanitarian assistance without any delay because it was time to stand with the people of Afghanistan to help them come out of the current challenges. We must remember that the Afghan government primarily depended on foreign aid, he said.
Russia needs to work with the Taliban government in Afghanistan, President Vladimir Putin said at the SCO. Speaking via video link at the conference held in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, Putin said Russia supported a United Nations conference on Afghanistan and that world powers should consider unfreezing Afghanistan’s assets.
China’s President Xi Jinping said on Friday that member nations of the SCO should help drive a smooth transition in Afghanistan, according to Chinese state media. SCO member states should guide Afghanistan to develop an inclusive political structure and follow moderate internal and external policies, Xi said. Xi was addressing a meeting of the heads of state of the SCO in Tajikistan via video link.
China’s state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi has urged India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar that the two countries should engage and focus on “normalised management" of the disputed boundary rather than relying solely on “emergency response." On the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, the two officials met on Thursday. Wang Yi stated that both countries must work together to keep the border areas peaceful and to prevent future crises. S Jaishankar stated that India-China relations are “indispensible" and that New Delhi does not believe in a “clash of civilisations." The two ambassadors last met in July at a SCO conference of foreign ministers in Dushanbe.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev urged other nations on Friday to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets kept in foreign banks to facilitate dialogue with the Taliban government in Kabul. Following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has said any central bank assets the Afghan government has in the United States will not be made available to the Taliban.
The International Monetary Fund has said Afghanistan will not have access to the lender’s resources. Mirziyoyev, whose country borders Afghanistan, called for talks between the bloc and the Taliban and for efforts to prevent the rise of extremism. Unfreezing Afghan assets, he said, could help achieve those goals.
With inputs from PTI, Reuters.