Amu Region

Tajikistan opposes Taliban’s participation in Shanghai Cooperation Organization

meeting of heads of SCO member states in Samarkand, Uzbekistan September 16, 2022- Reuters photo

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan — Tajikistan has expressed opposition to the Taliban’s participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) activities, creating a point of contention among member states, according to Daryo, an Uzbekistani state media agency.

Tajikistan’s stance was revealed as most participants in the SCO’s Council of Foreign Ministers favored resuming the work of the SCO-Afghanistan contact group. The information was disclosed by Russian special envoy Zamir Kabulov in an interview with RIA Novosti on June 11.

The matter was reportedly discussed during the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Council meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, on May 20-21. “Russia and the majority of participants favored resuming this contact group’s work. Our Tajik partners still have certain reservations, but we hope they will reconsider their stance soon,” Kabulov was quoted as saying.

The Taliban have argued that excluding their representatives from SCO meetings undermines comprehensive coordination on security challenges, combating drug trafficking, providing humanitarian aid, and implementing infrastructure projects.

Afghanistan has been an observer member of the SCO since October 2012. Before the collapse of the republican government in 2021, Afghanistan participated fully in SCO activities, including attendance at SCO summits by former Afghan leaders.

Efforts to reactivate the SCO-Afghanistan group and facilitate the Taliban’s participation are ongoing, driven by steps taken by some SCO members. China, for instance, has reactivated its embassy in Kabul, sent high-level delegations, and received Taliban representatives in Beijing.

In late May, it was reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Justice informed President Vladimir Putin about the possibility of removing the Taliban from the list of banned organizations. On June 3, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced that Kazakhstan had removed the Taliban from its list of terrorist organizations to facilitate economic cooperation with Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

Since the Taliban came to power, all Western embassies have suspended their operations in Afghanistan. However, China, Russia, Iran, and some other regional countries have continued to engage with the Taliban. Tajikistan, citing high security threats from Afghanistan, has refused to interact with the Taliban.