(MENAFN - Daily Outlook Afghanistan) Afghan PresidentMuhammad Ashraf Ghani traveled to the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek to attend the19th meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai CooperationOrganization (SCO). The meeting will carry increasing significance for Afghanistan,which is an observer state of the SCO.
Last year, Chinahosted the SCO meeting with the participation of heads of states, includingPresident Ghani from Afghan side. The SCO signed a protocol with the Afghangovernment during the SCO Heads of State summit in Qingdao, China, to establishthe Afghanistan Contact Group, a consultative mechanism for developingproposals and recommendations to support the country for establishing apeaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.
Heads of states meetin Bishkek at the time of immense challenges to regional stability. The threeevil forces of terrorism, separatism, and extremism as well as politicalconfrontation loom large across the region. Militant groups carry outindiscriminate attacks in regional countries, mainly Afghanistan. Meanwhile,the self-styled Islamic State group still remains a serious threat to theregion. The Easter Sunday deadly bombings in Sri Lanka, which is a dialoguepartner to the SCO, on April 21 suggests that terrorist groups seek to extendtheir reach across the region and target people on the basis of their faith,race, and color.
Meanwhile, povertyremains a formidable challenge in many countries in the region. Worst of all,poverty and hunger have been compounded as a result of regional conflict. Forinstance, a large number of civilians, including women and children, sufferseverely in the wake of famine and hunger in Syria and Yemen.
The SCO participantswill discuss regional security and poverty issues in the summit and reaffirm theircommitment to promoting cooperation to address the ongoing challenges.
To mitigateinsurgency as well as poverty, the SCO stakeholders have to promote mutualcooperation and trade and investment. That is, the SCO members, observers anddialogue partners have to reinforce their economic cooperation and join forcesto combat terrorism.
The SCO summitprovides a multilateral platform not only for commercial exchanges but alsocultural interaction and people-to-people contacts. Regional stakeholders haveto reinforce cultural exchanges so as to promote mutual understanding andmutual trust.
It should be notedthat violation of human rights and humanitarian law is one of the seriousissues across the region. The rights, liberties, and dignity of individuals arewidely trampled upon in one way or another. People are killed simply on thegrounds of their race, color, or gender. Meanwhile, Yemeni men, women, andchildren bear the brunt of violence and bloodshed as a result of the attackscarried out by Saudi-led coalition forces.
With this in mind,the SCO members, observers, and dialogue partners have to step up theirstruggles for protecting the rights and liberties of all individuals across theregion and put pressure on warring sides to resolve their issues throughcommunication rather than confrontation. Hence, all regional and globalstakeholders need to pave the ground for smooth exercise of human rights andhumanitarian law.
The SCO stakeholdersare supposed to establish mutual trust, friendly relations, and goodneighborliness and promote the culture of dialogue and interaction so that theycould mitigate regional problems and challenges. In other words, they have topromote the 'Shanghai Spirit – i.e. mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality,consultation, respect for cultural diversity, and pursuit of commondevelopment.
Adhering to theinternational principles, stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rightsand the United Nations Charter, SCO stakeholder have to respect the culturalvalues and social norms of all nations and step up their struggles fortrust-building.
The issue ofAfghanistan is highly serious as militant groups, notably the Taliban, haveintensified their terrorist activities. Afghan soldiers and civilians havesustained heavy casualties in the last 18 years of conflict. Having said that,peace and prosperity still remain elusive in Afghanistan. Thus, regionalstakeholders and SCO members have to support Afghanistan in its campaignagainst terrorism. They have to reinforce their military support toAfghanistan, with regard to international principles, to eliminate terrorism.Meanwhile, the SCO members are expected to put pressure on the Taliban to holddirect talks with the Afghan government and declare ceasefire.
It is believed thatpromoting Afghanistan from SCO's observer to member state will mitigate some ofthe challenges in Afghanistan and the SCO members need to take this issue intoaccount. Perhaps, this year's summit will further contribute to the mitigationof regional challenges and President Ghani's trip will be more fruitful.