Achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan is one of the main security objectives in the SCO region. The seriousness of the problem and the high degree of responsibility with which states are treating its solution is evidenced by the discussion of Afghan problems in the SCO-OTSC format. At the time, one of the main objectives of the multilateral negotiations was to seek agreed approaches to the situation in Afghanistan.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev presented his vision of the ongoing processes in Afghanistan, described the challenges and threats associated with them, and also offered a number of basic approaches to strengthen cooperation in the Afghan leadership.
President Mirziyoyev stressed that Uzbekistan, as the closest neighbor of the country, which has directly faced threats and challenges over these years, is clearly aware of all the possible negative consequences of the situation. which could develop in Afghanistan in the worst case.
In this regard, President Mirziyoyev called on SCO member countries to unite their efforts to prevent a protracted crisis in Afghanistan and related challenges and threats to member countries. To this end, it was proposed to establish effective cooperation on Afghanistan, as well as to conduct a coordinated dialogue with the new authorities, carried out in a proportionate manner in compliance with their obligations.
First, the Uzbek leader stressed the importance of achieving broad political representation of all segments of Afghan society in the administration of the state, as well as ensuring respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms, especially those women and national minorities. It should be noted that Tashkent has always adhered to a principled position on the need to respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the neighboring country. There is no alternative to a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. It is important to conduct a political dialogue with an inclusive negotiation process that exclusively takes into account the will of the entire Afghan people and the diversity of Afghan society.
In this regard, the formation of a representative government, a balance of the interests of ethno-political groups and the comprehensive consideration of the socio-economic interests of all segments of society in public administration are the most important conditions for a lasting peace. in Afghanistan. .
Furthermore, the effective use of the potential of all social, political, ethnic and religious groups can make a significant contribution to the restoration of the state and economy of Afghanistan and the return of the country to the path of peace and prosperity.
Second, the authorities must prevent the use of the country’s territory for subversive actions against neighboring states and must exclude the sponsorship of international terrorist organizations. It was stressed that countering the possible growth of extremism and the export of radical ideology, and stopping the penetration of militants across borders and their transfer from hotspots should become the main tasks of the SCO.
Over the past 40 years, war and instability have made Afghanistan a haven for various terrorist groups. According to the UN Security Council, 22 of the 28 international terrorist groups, including the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda, are currently operating in the country. Their ranks also include immigrants from Central Asia, China and Commonwealth of Independent States countries. So far, joint efforts have succeeded in effectively stopping terrorist and extremist threats emanating from Afghan territory and preventing them from spreading into the space of Central Asian countries.
At the same time, a protracted power and political crisis caused by the complex process of forming a legitimate and capable government can create a security vacuum in Afghanistan that can lead to the activation of terrorist and extremist groups, and can increase the risks transfer of shares to neighboring countries. . Moreover, the situation is aggravated by the growing poverty of the Afghan population.
According to the United Nations Development Programme, the population poverty rate is now 72% (27.3 million people out of 38 million). By mid-2022, it could reach 97%. Experts predict that the difficult socio-economic situation, combined with the deteriorating military-political situation, could lead to refugee flows from Afghanistan. According to UN estimates, by the end of 2021, their number could reach 515,000. At the same time, the main recipients of Afghan refugees will be neighboring SCO member countries.
In this context, the President stressed the importance of preventing the isolation of Afghanistan and its transformation into a “rogue state”.
Regarding the issue, it was proposed to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets in foreign banks in order to prevent a large-scale humanitarian crisis and the influx of refugees, as well as to continue to help Kabul recover economically and resolve social issues.
Otherwise, Afghanistan will not be able to emerge from the clutches of the illegal economy and could face the expansion of drug trafficking, arms and other forms of transnational organized crime. The negative consequences would first be felt by neighboring countries.
In this context, the President called for the consolidation of the efforts of the international community to resolve the situation in Afghanistan as soon as possible and proposed a high-level meeting in SCO-Afghanistan format in Tashkent with the participation of observer states and dialogue partners.
Akramjon Nematov is the First Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic and Interregional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. These comments are based on Uzbekistan’s initiatives towards Afghanistan presented at the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, held on September 16-17. — Ed.
By Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)