President Ghani’s Remarks in the 17th Summit Meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

President Ghani’s Remarks in the 17th Summit Meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

President Nazarbayov, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, United Nations Secretary-General, SCO Secretary-General, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 Today is a transformative moment for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Congratulations to India and Pakistan on becoming members and, thereby, bringing a majority of the people of South Asia into the Organization.  Congratulations to the SCO for encompassing a significant part of the humanity.   With increasing numbers comes the increasing responsibility to address the wishes and aspiration of the citizens of the member and observer countries.

The success is a tribute to the Shanghai Spirit and the systematic and sequential manner in which challenges have been faced and solved through cooperation and dialogue.   Were the culture of the SCO and its expanded resources mobilized to harness our potential for cooperation and to face our common threats, today might be celebrated as a transformative moment in the history of Euro-Asia in the future.

Compared to twenty or even ten years ago, the scale and scope of connectivity in Euro-Asia is truly impressive.    The potential, however, is even more remarkable.   A continental economy, knitted together by airports, fiber optics, highways, pipelines, ports, railways, transmission lines and other critical infrastructure woven together through agreed rules and regulations is within our reach and grasp.

The steady momentum in implementation of existing plans, programs and projects at the national and regional level are steadily turning the vision into a reality.  China’s Belt and Road initiative, India’s overhaul of its infrastructure and support for projects of regional connectivity, the steady and systematic investment of Central Asia, Caucuses and Russia, Iran’s focus on infrastructure, and Pakistan’s CPEC are all ambitious in scale and scope.   The opportunity is to align all the national and regional efforts into an overarching Euro-Asian program.

Paving the way for establishing connectivity between South Asia and the members and observers of the SCO is the next critical step in the process.   Afghanistan’s location at the heart of Asia and our past as an Asian Roundabout and a Gate of South Asia makes us a natural candidate for functioning as a regional hub.

Seeing regional cooperation as essential to prosperity and stability, we have focused relentlessly on connectivity.  We have made major strides forward with Turkmenistan, are having a breakthrough with Uzbekistan on transit, trade and investment, and steadily enhancing our cooperation with Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, and Azerbaijan.  I thank President Xi for ordering the feasibility of projects that will turn Afghanistan into one of the Roundabouts of the Road and Belt program.   We are looking forward to enhancing our cooperation with India and Iran on Chahbahar to other initiatives.   Our key regional initiatives are directing to bringing Central Asia and Pakistan together.   We hope that Pakistan will enhance its efforts for connectivity.

The threat posed by transnational terrorist networks and transnational criminal organizations, however, is a significant obstacle to our common vision and aspirations.   Afghanistan is the frontline and the first line of defense of many countries around this table.  Twenty transnational terrorist organizations have unleashed a total war against our civilians, our society, and our state institutions.  I am here to offer sincere and expanded cooperation against terrorist groups threatening any of the countries here and the transnational criminal organizations threatening all of us.  I equally hope that you will rally support for a comprehensive SCO strategy against terrorism and narcotics.

The 2006 United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy, endorsed by the General Assembly, provides the right framework.   Acting on the principle of “extradite or prosecute” is critical to confidence building.   To have true impact, efforts at the national and international levels must be complemented by actions at the regional level.   We, therefore, propose a systematic regional dialogue on a consistent approach to classifying of terrorist organizations, defining criteria and mechanisms for state sponsorship of terrorism, and agreeing to collective measures for preventing and preempting transnational terrorism.

Kabul, our capital, is in mourning, scarred by an explosion in the diplomatic quarter.   Fortunately, our guests were spared.  Not so, our children.  Our people demand justice.   We hope that coherent and systematic action can assure them and all victims of terrorism that we can overcome.