Most participants in the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member nations supported the resumption of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group. Tajikistan is the only dissenting member, Zamir Kabulov, Director of the Second Asia Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, told RIA Novosti in an interview on June 11.

According to Kabulov, the issue of resuming the work of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group was recently discussed at the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana on May 20-21.

“Russia and most participants in this event advocated for the resumption of the work of this contact group.  Certain doubts remain among our Tajik partners, but we hope they will soften their position in the near future,” said Kabulov.

A year ago, the Taliban leadership stated that their representatives have a legitimate right to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summits.

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the name used by the Taliban for the state) welcomes such meetings to improve coordination for ensuring regional security and developing cooperation, and considers Afghanistan's participation (which is an observer in the organization) in such meetings its legitimate right," read the Taliban's statement.

According to the Taliban, the absence of representatives of the Afghan authorities at SCO meetings is an obstacle “for comprehensive coordination of actions to counter security challenges, combat drug trafficking, provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan population, and implement infrastructure projects.”

The SCO set up the SCO- Afghanistan Contact Group in 2005 to cooperate on counterterrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime.  

The protocol on the establishment of the Contact Group between the SCO and Afghanistan says the Group is established with the purpose of elaborating proposals and recommendations on realization of cooperation between the SCO and Afghanistan on issues of mutual interest.

The Contact Group reportedly consists of Permanent Representatives of member states to the SCO Secretariat, Secretariat officers and senior diplomats of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to China

As violence escalated in the region, and U.S. influence grew after its invasion, the Contact Group was rendered irrelevant, and disbanded in 2009.

Tajikistan is the strongest critic of the Taliban in Central Asia and continues to host dialogues featuring a diversity of Afghan voices.  Immediately after the Taliban takeover, Tajik President Rahmon vowed not to recognize the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate as it was “formed through oppression.”  He criticized the Taliban for ignoring the rights of ethnic Tajiks in Afghanistan and vowed his support for an inclusive government in the country.  The Taliban responded by warning Tajikistan not to interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.  Tajik officials have repeatedly complained of drug and refugee traffic along the 1,360-kilometer border with Afghanistan.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, international security and defense organization.  It is the world's largest regional organization in terms of geographic scope and population, covering approximately 60% of the area of Eurasia, 40% of the world population. Its combined GDP is around 20% of global GDP.

The SCO currently has nine full members -- China, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, India, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Belarus (September 16, 2022) is acceding member.  It is expected to become full member of Organization in next month.

Besides, Belarus and Mongolia are observer states.

SCO’s dialogue partners include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cambodia, Egypt, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Turkiye and United Arab Emirates.

ACEAN, CIS, Turkmenistan and the United Nations are guest attendances.

Inactive: Afghanistan.