Delivering a speech at the 15th prime minister's summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Afghan CEO Abdullah Abdullah on Thursday requested Afghanistan be made a full member of the SCO and that its members support the move.
He said Afghanistan attaches great importance to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a regional platform for addressing international terrorism, violent extremism, separatism and narcotics through confidence-building and enhanced economic and security cooperation.
He said Afghanistan's request for becoming a full-fledged member of the SCO is "testimony of my government's firm resolve to participate and contribute to the discussions and policy lines adopted by this forum. I am, therefore, requesting that all SCO members extend their full support for Afghanistan's membership."
The 15th prime minister's summit was held Thursday in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and member states were expected to discuss issues of trade, economy and scientific-technical cooperation.
Attending the summit are full member countries, observer countries, dialogue partners and non-governmental organizations including the UN Secretariat. Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister Sooronbay Jeenbekov is chairing this year's summit.
Abdullah said Afghanistan stands at a new and critical juncture. "In the last two years, the Afghan National Unity Government has been focused on preserving the hard-gained achievements of the past 15 years, and has taken major steps to fight terrorism, improve good governance, expand rule of law, limit corruption, implement electoral reform, enhance regional cooperation and provide opportunities for the promotion of private sector activity, investment and economic development."
He said security and stability continue to be major concerns for the people and for the Afghan government.
"Our sincere endeavors to engage the Taliban and nudge Pakistan to assist the peace process have thus far yielded almost no concrete results.
"Different terrorist and militant groups, with roots beyond Afghan borders, are engaged in a low-intensity conflict across several provinces. These groups have attempted to disrupt peace and security by committing suicide attacks and killing innocent civilians. However, their efforts have failed and they are facing stiff resistance by our brave Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
"Meanwhile, our effort for just and durable peace will continue," he said.
Abdullah also touched on the recent Brussels Conference on Afghanistan and said it had been a great success and expressed his thanks to all supporting countries and organizations present at the SCO.
"Regional cooperation is one of the most effective tools for addressing regional challenges and achieving economic integration. Attaining shared prosperity and stability requires enhanced regional cooperation through confidence-building measures and by providing economic and investment opportunities, promoting trade, transit and connectivity, as well as increasing people to people interactions," he said.
To this end, Afghanistan, through the use of existing regional mechanisms such as RECCA and Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, and with the support of regional countries and international friends, regards regional cooperation as a priority and intends to turn Afghanistan into a regional hub and economic roundabout for trade, transit, energy transfer, connectivity and business in Heart of Asia, he said.
Abdullah also pointed out that terrorism and extremism, also involving Daesh, were major threats to Afghanistan's stability as well as to that of the region.
"Terrorism is the enemy of all humanity, and terrorists belong to no particular ethnicity, region or religion, as they do not recognize borders. There is no good and bad terrorist. We need to fight them together, to assure their defeat," he said.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or Shanghai Pact, is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organization which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of the People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
These countries, except for Uzbekistan had been members of the Shanghai Five, founded in 1996; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organization. On July 10, 2015, the SCO decided to admit India and Pakistan as full members.
India and Pakistan signed the memorandum of obligations on 24 June 2016, thereby starting the formal process of joining the SCO as full members. The acceptance process will take some months but they are expected to become full members in 2017.
Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia and Belarus are the SCO observer-countries, while Turkey, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal are dialogue partners.