- Saroj Singh
- PRESS24 NEWS correspondent
China and Pakistan have decided to take “joint action” against terrorist forces in Afghanistan to prevent it from becoming a “terrorism bastion”.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was on a visit to China on Monday, where he met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Recently, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that they see China as a friend of Afghanistan.
He hopes that talks will be held with China as soon as possible to invest in the reconstruction work. The Taliban has also said that it will no longer allow Chinese Vigar separatist fighters from Xinjiang to enter Afghanistan.
Both these statements have come at a time when several different efforts are going on for reconciliation between the US, Russia as well as the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban.
Apart from Doha and Moscow, the Afghanistan issue has also been discussed in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting. But nothing concrete has come out.
It is also worth noting that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is coming to India just a day after the issue of Afghanistan has been raised in the meeting of foreign ministers of Pakistan and China.
It is expected that the latest situation in Afghanistan can also be discussed in the talks between the foreign ministers of America and India.
The question arises that if China talks about ‘joint action’ with Pakistan in Afghanistan, then whether there is anything to worry about for India or not? Can China play a mediator between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban?
Usually mediation is done by those who are equal friends of both the parties involved in the dispute.
First it is important to know that does China really have friendly relations with both the Afghan government and the Taliban?
China’s relations with the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban
“China has always been in contact with both the Afghan government and the Taliban,” says Professor Swaran Singh of the School of International Study at Jawaharlal Nehru University. In 1996, when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, there was no formal relationship between the two. Even though China was in contact with the Taliban. One reason for this is the fear of Vigor Islamic terrorism in China’s Xinjiang province. The Chinese government also has formal meetings with the Afghan government. The SCO meeting is an example of this. In such a situation, if China mediates If you see yourself in the role of, then it is not a big deal.
He goes on to say, “It is beneficial for China to have Pakistan together in this role. This is because Pakistan has an inclination for both sides. Together with America, it is also fighting the Taliban on the one hand and the Taliban on the other. Pakistan’s friendly relations with the Taliban will be helpful for the level at which China will try to mediate.
“As a mediator, there is one more thing that only China can do and other countries can’t – that is financial aid. China can make a good offer to Afghanistan under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).”
In fact, China has already proposed to build an expressway from Kabul to Peshawar under the BRI project and join CPEC after coming to Peshawar. This will boost China’s trade and Afghanistan will also benefit from it. China was in talks with the Afghan government for this, but the agreement was not signed.
If the Taliban come to power in Afghanistan in any form in the future, then they can get that financial help from China. The Taliban have said in the past that they will talk to China about investing in reconstruction work as soon as possible.
In such a situation, playing the role of mediator for China is a win-win deal for both the Afghan government and the Taliban.
China in the role of ‘mediator’
But the question is also that after seeing the situation in America, why would China want to play such a role?
Shanti Marriott D’Souza is Professor at Kautilya School of Public Policy. He has worked in Afghanistan and has also done his PhD on it. In a conversation with the PRESS24 NEWS, she says that the Taliban has always been important to China. She counts three important reasons behind this.
First – China has also made economic investment in development works in Afghanistan. They want them to continue to benefit from those investments, which will require friendly relations with the Taliban.
Second – the image of terrorist groups associated with the Taliban such as Jaish, Lashkar and Haqqani Network has so far been ‘anti-India’. China wants to make strategic use of Taliban against India if needed.
Third – Do not start problems in China’s own Xinjiang province because of the Taliban. He would not want the effect of Afghanistan’s instability to be seen on the border of China and any kind of new terrorism starts spreading there.
Professor Shanti D’Souza also believes that after seeing the fate of America and Russia, China can mediate for stability in Afghanistan, but will not want to intervene military. It can play a bigger role in ‘back channel talks’ with the Taliban and the government.
fear of china
The border of China’s Xinjiang province with Afghanistan is about eight kilometers long. Given the situation in Afghanistan, China’s main concern is that if the Taliban does indeed take power, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a separatist organization operating in Xinjiang, China, may find refuge and aid from there. .
The East Turkestan Islamic Movement is a small Islamic separatist group that is said to be active in western China’s Xinjiang province and seeks to establish an independent East Turkestan. Xinjiang province is home to China’s ethnic minority, the Weigar Muslims.
Because of this fear, China has always been in contact with the Taliban.
Apart from China, both Russia and America no longer want to play the role of ‘mediator’. America has returned from there after 20 years, Russia does not want to give military aid and cannot provide financial aid. The Foreign Minister of Russia has already said this thing.
If it is a matter of Pakistan, then they do not get along with the Afghan government. In the Doha conference, the heads of state of both the countries had even heard.
India never maintained friendly relations with Taliban. Recently, news of some behind-the-scenes conversations definitely came.
India has invested more than three billion dollars in Afghanistan.
According to the Government of India, India has more than 400 projects going on in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. India has built the Parliament building of Afghanistan and India has also built a big dam with Afghanistan.
This investment from the Indian side is not only economic, but has also been done in order to maintain good political relations with the Afghan government.
Apart from this, India’s concern is also that the government there should not allow its soil to be used for anti-India activities.
Professor Shanti D’Souza says, “If China’s mediation brings stability, a safe environment is created, the Taliban does not occupy power, then India will not have to worry.”
But she also warns that in the future, Afghanistan can also become an arena of competition between India and China. If China goes there in some kind of ‘big role’ and there is any threat to India’s investment in collusion with Pakistan.
Professor Shanti D’Souza further says that whatever investment India has made in Afghanistan has been done in the form of financial help, while China has given financial help for development works in Afghanistan. They all know that whenever China helps financially, it also sees its benefit.
China has invested in Afghanistan from the security sector to the copper mine.
Challenge for China in the role of ‘mediator’
In such a situation, a question also arises that will it be easy for China to play the role of mediator?
On this Swaran Singh says that America would not want China to play such a role. America will talk to Pakistan and also to India. His foreign minister is also on a visit to India.
There is always a hint from America towards India that India should send troops to Afghanistan. However, there has been no comment from India on this. But to keep its embassy safe, India has first sent a paramilitary force there.
He says that America sees a big role for India in bringing stability in Afghanistan. Because of this, India has also started talks with the Taliban behind the scenes.
But Professor Shanti thinks a little differently from the opinion of Professor Swaran Singh. They do not think that America will be directly against China’s role in Afghanistan.
He says that America would definitely like China to play a bigger role in Afghanistan, but it should be in the form of military intervention.
It may also happen that a strategic competition will start between the US and China regarding the Taliban. On the one hand, there is a peace agreement between America and Taliban, on the other hand America knows that China has good relations with Pakistan and there is friendship between Pakistan and Taliban.
In this sense, the coming few weeks are going to be important for all of Afghanistan, America, China, Pakistan and India.
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