The latest: The importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan for the region had been enormously highlighted at the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which was held in India starting Friday.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the meeting stressed that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is not only the key to regional integration and economic cooperation, but is also the key to global peace and stability.
- Bhutto added that the international community must also help build counterterrorism capacity for the security of Afghanistan, the region, and the world as a whole. “It is worrying that terrorist groups in Afghanistan are cooperating more closely with each other than we as the international community,” he added.
- He also noted that the Taliban must abide by their commitment to not use Afghan soil by terrorism.
- Pakistan, however, stated that even though the situation in Afghanistan brings challenges and opportunities, the international community must engage meaningfully with the Taliban.
At the meeting, the foreign minister of India too stressed on efforts to improve the situation in Afghanistan. India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said during the opening address that the situation in Afghanistan remains the focus of the SCO’s attention.
- He stressed that terrorism in all its forms must be eradicated and that the efforts of the members of the organization must be for the welfare of the Afghan people and peace in the country.
- The foreign ministers of India, Russia, and Pakistan also called for a representative government in Afghanistan and the protection of women’s rights, almost two years after the Islamist Taliban swept to power in Kabul.
- “Our immediate priorities include providing humanitarian assistance, ensuring a truly inclusive and representative government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, and preserving the rights of women, children, and minorities,” Jaishankar said.
Meanwhile, Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov said Moscow expected the Taliban leadership to “deliver on their promises to come up with an inclusive government”.
- “The assurances that were given in regards of human rights, security in the territory of Afghanistan, and the eradication of terrorist threats, drug trafficking, we are keeping an eye on this,” Lavrov said.
Why it matters? Concerns over the stability of Afghanistan are growing as the country struggles with its economy and humanitarian crises under Taliban rule.
- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this week warned of a severe shortfall in financial pledges for its humanitarian appeal this year, which is just over 6% funded, short of the $4.6 billion requested for a country in which most of the population lives in poverty.
- The Taliban have also tightened controls on women’s access to public life, including barring women from university and closing girls’ high schools.
Zoom out: It is worth noting that the Taliban has not been invited to the Shanghai Cooperation Summit in India.
- No country has recognised the Taliban who took over Afghanistan in August 2021, after a 20-year insurgency against U.S.-led forces, with a speed and ease that took the world by surprise, following which President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
- The SCO meeting with the participation of eight countries, including Russia, China, and Pakistan, will conclude tomorrow with a joint declaration.