India invited to join SCO contact group meeting on Afghanistan

India following its rising profile in Afghanistan for the first time ever has been invited to join Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) contact group meeting on Afghanistan to discuss prevailing security situation and economic potential of the landlocked country.

The meeting is being is held on October 11 in Moscow and comes as a feather in the cap for India’s Afghan strategy after successful US backed Indo-Afghan trade and investment show in Delhi. The development is viewed as acknowledgement of India’s stake in the war-torn country.

The SCO contact group on Afghanistan that became defunct in 2009 has been revived following intervention by Russian President Vladimir Putin from this year, persons familiar with the matter indicated to ET. India was invited to join maiden SCO contact group meeting on Afghanistan after it became a SCO member this June. “What India has done for Afghanistan in terms of socio-economic projects and training of civilian and armed forces personnel since 2001 has no parallel. Besides India has also promised to execute another 116 projects across Afghanistan. Very few nations have this track record,” an official from the one of the SCO member states told ET.

Wednesday’s SCO Afghan contact group meet will not only discuss prevailing security situation in Afghanistan that has spill over impact across the region but also economic potential of the landlocked country that remains underutilised, persons familiar with the region told ET. All eight members of SCO besides Afghanistan are expected to attend Wednesday’s meet.

India is working with both US and Russia to contribute to stability of Afghanistan and hosted Putin’s envoy Zamir Kabulov coinciding with the trade show. SCO membership that put India into the heart of Eurasian Geo-politics enabling a larger say in Afghanistan that has direct bearing on security situation here. However, India’s deeper engagement with Afghanistan has been opposed by Pakistan and its Army. Pak-backed Taliban and Haqqani network continue to target Indian interests and assets in the landlocked country as it strives to achieve “strategic depth”.