Illustration: SCO

SCO members concerned over rising terrorism threat from Afghanistan

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members have in a recent meeting expressed concerns over the rising threat of terrorism emanating from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

The 40th meeting of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure Council took place in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana on Friday, Anadolu Agency reported

Representatives from India, Iran, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan discussed issues of countering terror financing and illegal arms trafficking.

The meeting also sought to review interim results of the “SCO member countries’ cooperation program against terrorism, separatism, and extremism” for 2022-2024.

SCO deems Afghanistan a threat with regard to exporting terrorism, particularly from the Islamic State—Khorasan Province (ISKP), Kazakhstan’s Deputy Chairman of the National Security Committee, Ruslan Seysembayev, said.

Seysembayev indicated that the ISKP threat is growing in the region, which he estimated to have around 6,000 fighters in Afghanistan.

He also warned that ISKP could potentially spill into SCO borders given the increasing high-level terrorism threat in Afghanistan.

According to Seysembayev, there have been at least 80 high-profile terror attacks in SCO member countries in the last three years.

Established by the member states of the Shanghai Convention, the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure seeks to combat terrorism, separatism, and extremism.

In early July, SCO members discussed the situation in Afghanistan in a virtual meeting chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi said that the situation in Afghanistan directly impacts the security of the block’s members and stressed that “Afghanistan soil should not be allowed to be used to destabilize its neighbors.”