The 21st Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was held on September 16 and 17 in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. This year was the 20th anniversary of the organisation. The summit was a regular annual event. However, in the wake of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan a month ago, the conference focused on the situation in Afghanistan and its impact on regional security.
The SCO's journey began in the late twentieth century under the name 'Shanghai Five'. The members were China, Russia and the three Central Asian countries- Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan later joined, and on June 15, 2001, the Shanghai
Co-operation Organization was formed with six members . India and Pakistan joined in 2017 and Iran was accepted as a member at the just concluded summit on 17 September. After gaining Iran's membership, Afghanistan has become a country surrounded by SCO members. The SCO aims to provide security in the Central Asian region, whose main threats are terrorism, separatism and extremism.
The summit, hosted by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, was attended by the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as the prime minister of Pakistan. The new member was Iranian President Ibrahim Raisio. The heads of state of some of the observer or dialogue partners came as guests. However, the three largest and most powerful countries, China, Russia and the heads of state or government of India, have taken part in it through virtual, from their respective capitals.
In a joint statement issued at the end of the summit, SCO members said they wanted to see an Afghanistan free of terrorism, war and drugs. They believe that a speedy resolution of the Afghan situation is needed to safeguard and strengthen the security and stability of the SCO region. The international community is called upon to provide assistance so that Afghan refugees can return home safely. It was decided to increase cooperation among member states in the fight against terrorism and extremism and to continue joint counter-terrorism activities. In his speech, China called on Afghanistan to establish an open and inclusive political system, adopt a pragmatic domestic and foreign policy, and renounce all ties with all terrorist organizations.
The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi spoke through virtual. He warned that Afghan soil could not be used to export terrorism. He called on the SCO member states to formulate a comprehensive policy in this regard in view of the volatile environment in Afghanistan. He added that the course of events in Afghanistan would have an impact on its neighbors.
In addition, his speech raised three other important points:
1. If Afghanistan is unstable and under the control of fundamentalists, terrorism and extremist ideologies will be encouraged there.
2. Political change in Afghanistan has not introduced an inclusive system. Representation of all communities, including women and minorities, is crucial;
3. Emphasizing the importance of moderate Islam in Central Asia, he called member states to work to curb the spread of religious extremism and extremism and to encourage rational thinking.
The concerns raised by Modi's remarks about the situation in Afghanistan are real and most countries in the world agree. Even the Prime Minister of Pakistan has expressed his concern over the instability in Afghanistan and expressed hope for a speedy resolution. Interestingly, the three issues listed above also apply to Narendra Modi's India.
Latent communalism exists in most societies and in many cases its latent manifestation occurs. Divided on the basis of religion, India is no exception. There have been very few years in post-independence India when there has not been a single communal riot. In fact, there have been multiple riots in most years. Needless to say, most of the victims of the riots were Indian Muslims. Even then, the huge Muslim minority had a prominent position in Indian society and politics. In the last 40 years, the RSS, the BJP and their allies have spread communal poison with such success that this inclusive system has completely disappeared. This change happened slowly,But firmly. The situation was not so bad at the beginning of the 21st century. His party did worse than expected from opinion polls, which saw them at gaining about a third of the seats. That era is now stale.
A recent study by Pew Research found that 74 percent of Hindus believe that being a Hindu is crucial to being a true Indian. Even 59 percent Hindus think it is important to be Hindi speaking. In the midst of diversity, the belief in beauty is weakening. In the last two elections, Modi has formed a BJP government with a single majority, but not a single one of the 200 million Muslims in the BJP's Lok Sabha has been represented. Inclusive India came to an end under Modi.
Narendra Modi has emphasized on moderate Islam. What is the status of moderate Hinduism in India or in the world? Many Muslims in India are facing constant attacks in the name of save the cow. There is no provision for their protection or punishment for attackers in 'secular' India. From September 10, 53 universities around the world, including Harvard, Stanford and Princeton, are hosting an 'Academic Conference' titled 'Dismantling Global Hinduism'. The purpose of this online meeting was to discuss Hindutva or extremist Hindu nationalism and its adverse effects on the Indian minority. But various Hindu groups in India and the United States have accused it of being anti-Hindu. Its organizers and participating researchers or experts have been threatened by Hindutva activists. More than 1 million e-mails have been sent to universities to report on physical attacks, killings,Sexual harassment has been threatened. Many have turned away from the show in the face of threats. The language of an e-mail was, 'If this meeting is held, I will become Osama bin Laden and kill all the speakers. Don't blame me then. ' Taliban, what is the smell of IS? Fundamentalism, extremism is not just a problem of Afghanistan or Muslims.
The journey of secular India on the path to a Hindu state, which began with the rise of the BJP in the 1990s, has accelerated tremendously under Modi's rule. The verdict in the Babri Masjid case, the civil registry, the citizenship law, the change of status of Kashmir — all are part of this underworld. This journey must be reined in for peace, stability, and progress. What happens in Afghanistan is important, of course, but India has a lot to do at home to control extremism.
● Muhammad Shoaib is a Bangladeshi journalist