Statement by the Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Heads of Government

Dushanbe, Republic of Tajikistan

October 11-12, 2018

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

Excellency, Prime Minister Kohir Rasulzoda,

Excellencies Heads of Government,

Excellency, Secretary General Rashid Alimov,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my distinct pleasure to be heading the Afghan delegation to this meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization held this year in the historic and friendly city of Dushanbe.

I want to thank the Republic of Tajikistan, its esteemed leadership and brotherly people for the excellent arrangements and the warm hospitality extended to our delegation.

Excellencies,

We view the SCO as an important and influential regional platform bringing together various nations that have much to share in terms of security, economic integration, and cultural and human capital that binds them.

The SCO is today playing an ever-more important role in providing regional connectivity, policy coordination and, above all, a platform for dialogue and understanding to enhance the stability and security for our countries by aiming to deliver on the promises of safer, better livelihoods and shared prosperity.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the member states and the SCO Secretariat for establishing the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, and for accepting the Afghan government’s proposal, as co-chair of our latest meetings, to focus on future efforts and objectives on the basis of a joint agenda covering political, security, economic, peace and reconciliation topics.

Meanwhile we will continue to engage and discuss issues, including projects and agreements pertaining to Afghanistan’s SCO membership, submitted in Ufa in June 2015, to make sure that our natural geographic conditions and proximity provide greater advantage for SCO’s vision of an enhanced regional economic integration.

Excellencies,

Terrorism tied to extremism and separatism remain the biggest collective challenges we face in our region. As a frontline state, Afghanistan bears the bulk of the burden in the fight against terrorism and extremism as terrorist organizations identified as a threat to our people’s safety and our country’s security – as well as yours - continue to operate along our border regions, from hideouts and breeding grounds under their control.

A common trait is the presence of sanctuaries and support networks, bolstered by drug and smuggling funding systems, that act as lifelines to most of these groups. As you are aware, we are working with all involved nations, especially Pakistan, to zero in on the infrastructures and breeding grounds that help fund, recruit, indoctrinate, train and deploy the manpower and logistics used to destabilize us and the region as a whole.

The number of losses and casualties in Afghanistan speak for themselves. This menace continues to hinder social and economic development at home, and connectivity across our region.

Among the groups that have since 2014 found their way to a few hideouts in Afghanistan, is IS or Daesh. We see them as a serious threat as we aim to use all means to identify and deny them a foothold inside our country. Most of their recruits are non-Afghans, and they are opportunistic in their dealings and affiliations with other militant groups, including certain Taliban groupings.

We continue to appeal to our regional friends by stressing that fighting terrorism, extremism and separatism will require our collective efforts that need close cooperation and coordination. But first we need to make sure that we treat all forms of terrorism as one. We cannot make the mistake of differentiating between good and bad terrorism.

We welcome the multinational regional meeting on counter-terrorism at the level of national security officials that was held in Tehran last month.

I want to inform that Afghanistan through the Counter-Terrorism Confidence Building Measure of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process is working with member states on a draft regional counter-terrorism strategy. We appreciate your engagement and positive contributions made through the Heart of Asia-Istanbul, RECCA and Kabul Processes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Government of National Unity in Afghanistan continues to promote an Afghan-led and Afghan owned peace and reconciliation agenda. Earlier this year, we presented a comprehensive plan for reconciliation and reintegration that was supported by the international community. Meanwhile, we will defend our citizens, their rights and achievements when attacked.

Any friendly effort inside or outside Afghanistan to promote talks or open new avenues leading to a credible and inclusive process are appreciated, however, we stress on constructive consultation, coordination and cooperation among stakeholders that respect Afghan ownership.

Distinguished colleagues,

The Afghan government has made every effort to provide an enabling environment for expanding the borders of trade, transit, communications, investment and energy transmission to better equip us to fight poverty and underdevelopment, by bringing the different segments of the greater region closer to each other.

Afghanistan is a natural land-bridge for the SCO region and its periphery. We aim to turn our country into a roundabout of people, goods, services, communications, cooperation and ideas in the wider region.

At the end, I want to reiterate that Afghanistan is strongly committed to working closely with the SCO to enhance cooperation in key areas of interest in order to further our vision for a peaceful, stable and prosperous region.

Thank you.