Role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Afghanistan: Scope and Limitations

Meena Singh Roy is Research Fellow at Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detail profile.
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  • July 2010

    Today, the situation in Afghanistan is mired with the geopolitics of regional and extra-regional players. Bringing stability to the country is a major challenge for the international community. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has the potential to play an important role, provided it is able to make some adjustments in its policy. Given its strengths and weaknesses, it is likely to focus more on economic, trade and security related issues within the Eurasian region rather than in Afghanistan. However, the geographical proximity of Afghanistan to the SCO member states, particularly, the Central Asian countries, will increasingly demand continued attention of its neighbouring countries to engage Afghanistan bilaterally. Despite the SCO's proposed commitments since 2008 to provide greater attention to the Afghan issue, it may not be able to play any significant role because of its inherent contradictions, economic limitations and greater emphasis on bilateral engagement with Afghanistan by the member countries other than a multilateral engagement. More importantly, Afghanistan's absence from the SCO and the US-NATO military presence in Afghanistan do not provide enough space for the SCO to play any meaningful role in Afghanistan.