Home > Uncategorized > Reconstructing Regional Stability: Afghanistan and the SCO

Reconstructing Regional Stability: Afghanistan and the SCO

China Daily
June 4, 2012

Reconstructing regional stability

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The clearer the West’s intention was to impose on Kabul its political, economic and other standards, the stronger the SCO documents stressed the fruitlessness of resolving the conflict solely through military means and the overriding importance of respecting the historical and ethnic reality of Afghanistan, as well as the traditional and religious values of its people.

The Afghan government strongly believes in establishing a modern Silk Road. This would unify Eurasia with a trade and transport system that would enhance prosperity and security for all involved.

A lasting peace can only be realized through agreements among the various political powers in Afghanistan. Compared with an “imported peace” imposed by the US, a “domestically made peace” would be more reliable.

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Editor’s note: With the withdrawal of NATO combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, what kind of role can the Shanghai Cooperation Organization play to help maintain stability and promote development in the country?

Chinese and foreign scholars shared their views on the topic at a forum hosted by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations on May 30 and 31 in Beijing. Here are some excerpts:

From the moment it was founded, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has been supportive of its members’ efforts to implement economic reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.

At the international conference on Afghanistan held in Bonn late last year, heads of delegations from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states confirmed their willingness to contribute to the revival of Afghanistan, and pointed out the significance of strengthening the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

With the withdrawal of NATO troops scheduled for the end of 2014 and the transfer of security responsibilities to the national law enforcement authorities, the active stance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is of special significance, as the member states, being Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors, are concerned about the future security situation in the country.

The clearer the West’s intention was to impose on Kabul its political, economic and other standards, the stronger the SCO documents stressed the fruitlessness of resolving the conflict solely through military means and the overriding importance of respecting the historical and ethnic reality of Afghanistan, as well as the traditional and religious values of its people.

In this regard, the more coordinated and dynamic the response of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to future challenges in Afghanistan, the more it will be able to position itself as a powerful and irreplaceable mechanism for peace and stability in Southwest and Central Asia.

Mikhail A. Konarovskiy, deputy secretary-general of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

A stable, secure and developed Afghanistan is a necessity if the region is to achieve security and meaningful economic integration.

The Afghan government strongly believes in establishing a modern Silk Road. This would unify Eurasia with a trade and transport system that would enhance prosperity and security for all involved. It would cement the relationship between the establishment of the Northern Distribution Network and the much wider vision for the future of Afghanistan and Eurasia. As highlighted in the Afghan national development strategy, Afghanistan’s future vision and prosperity will be part of a Eurasian trading and transport network.

The international efforts in Afghanistan over the last decade represent a unique engagement. We are delighted to see the international community’s commitment to Afghanistan lasting beyond transition.

Abdul Ghafoor Poya Faryabi, director-general of the Center for Strategic Studies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Afghanistan

The United States started withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July 2011. Where the country is heading after the withdrawal of all NATO troops in 2014 is still uncertain.

If different military forces cannot reach an agreement before the US pulls its troops out of the country, there could be a civil war. Or, realizing their inability to win a total war, Pashtun-dominant Taliban forces might even seek to establish a Pashtun state in the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan, thus dividing the country.

Even if war can be prevented the different ethnic groups within the country might establish their own areas, making it a loose confederation.

Of course what people should pursue is integration, a universal agreement that includes various political forces in propelling the country forward.

To strive for the best results, we need to employ both internal and external resources in a mechanism where both regional and world powers can contribute. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization as the biggest organization of regional cooperation can offer the basis for such a mechanism, by maintaining dialogues with Western countries and assisting Afghanistan with its domestic problems.

So we hope the Shanghai Cooperation Organization can accept Afghanistan as an observer and extend a cooperation regime, so that the political cooperation process can begin sooner.

Hu Shisheng, director of Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies CICIR

To the US and Afghan governments, war with the Taliban can end in three ways: by defeating it, being defeated by it, or reaching an agreement.
Having realized the impossibility of the first two, both the Afghan government and the US are seeking negotiations with the Taliban, but with little success.

Actually even if the US and the Taliban did reach an agreement that would only be sharing political power, which is far from ethnic reconciliation. So the future of Afghanistan remains in doubt.

A lasting peace can only be realized through agreements among the various political powers in Afghanistan. Compared with an “imported peace” imposed by the US, a “domestically made peace” would be more reliable.

However, a domestic peace will only grow in fertile soil. The various political forces are now accustomed to violence. It is the responsibility of the international community to provide assistance, and guidance if necessary, so that the different forces lay down their arms and a true, lasting peace can be realized, not only in Afghanistan, but also in the whole of central Asia.

Zhao Huasheng, director of the Russia Research Center, Fudan University
We should not assume that regional or international actors can solve all of Afghanistan’s problems – history is full of examples of the negative outcomes that result from other nations thinking they can control or change Afghanistan. The reality is, long-term and sustainable change in Afghanistan can only be achieved by Afghanistan itself.

The only way forward is to integrate Afghanistan into the region through an effective economic structure. This will require strengthening Afghanistan’s regional transport links as well as its government.

Improved economic structures and the linking of the Afghan economy to the regional and international economy offer the hope of creating long-term stability and decreasing the radicalization of the Afghan state and its neighbors. Short-term gains for different forces will need to be overseen, and rivals will have to cooperate to attain security benefits.

What is needed is more effective coordination, which could be initiated with an international conference that would aim to organize future efforts. It will be necessary to look at the development side first and then slowly move on to the political issues.

Niklas Swanstrom, director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Sweden

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. rosemerry
    June 4, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    What a change from the US “let’s get ’em” strategy. I hope some progress can be made, but in the poorest country in the region, devastated by foreign interference and with little chance for education or even adequate food and health care, it is going to take a long time.

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