Afghanistan figures prominently at SCO as Xi seeks help in smooth transition
New Delhi, Sep 17 (EFE).- The evolving Afghan situation and the challenges it has thrown figured prominently in the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping urging the member states to help in a smooth transition of the war-ravaged country following the Taliban takeover.
It was the first meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the regional bloc held in the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe after the Islamist militia seized power and announced an interim government in Afghanistan.
The SCO comprises eight members: China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – all in the neighborhood of Afghanistan, which is an observer state in the bloc.
Iran joined as a new member in the 21st meeting of heads of SCO countries on Friday.
“Afghanistan still faces many daunting challenges, and it needs the support and assistance of the international community, particularly countries in our region,” Xi said, addressing the meeting via video link.
“We SCO member states need to step up coordination, make full use of platforms such as the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group and facilitate a smooth transition in Afghanistan,” the Chinese president emphasized.
He said the SCO states needed to encourage Afghanistan to form a broad-based and inclusive political framework and adopt prudent and moderate domestic and foreign policies.
He said the SCO must help Afghanistan to “resolutely fight all forms of terrorism, live in amity with its neighbors and truly embark on a path of peace, stability and development.”
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who attended the summit in person, called on the international community to engage with Afghanistan and avoid a humanitarian crisis in a country on the path to peace after 40 years of conflict.
“Going forward, we believe positive engagement of the international community with Afghanistan is extremely important. This is a moment to stand by the Afghan people,” Khan said.
He said “equally urgent priorities” were to prevent a humanitarian crisis and an economic meltdown in the country torn by decades of war.
Khan said the Taliban takeover of the country “has established a new reality” in Afghanistan “without bloodshed, without civil war, and without mass exodus of refugees.”
“There is a rare opportunity to finally end the 40 years of war. This moment should not be squandered.”
Khan also called on the Taliban to keep their promises related to forming an inclusive government that gives representation to all ethnic groups and respects human rights.
Khan was one of the few leaders to congratulate the Taliban after taking over Kabul.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is wary of the Taliban, flagged radicalism as one of the main threats to peace in the region.
“The biggest challenges in the region are related to peace, security and trust-deficit and the root cause of these problems is increasing radicalization. Recent developments in Afghanistan have made this challenge more apparent,” Modi said.
He urged SCO members to initiate and prioritize the fight against the problem of radicalization.
“If we look at the history, we will find that the Central Asian region has been a bastion of moderate and progressive cultures and values. On the basis of this historical heritage of Central Asia, the SCO should develop a common template to fight radicalization and extremism.”
He said fighting radicalization was not only necessary for regional security and mutual trust, “but also for the bright future of our younger generations.”