China and Afghanistan

Author: Ali Imran Atta

Beijing is forging diplomatic and economic ties with Afghanistan, and Kabul is pleased with the attention while the rest of the world views the Taliban regime in Afghanistan as a pariah. Taliban clergy representatives frequently support high-level talks between authorities, new mineral transactions, and the improvement of transportation connections between the two nations. Although Beijing has downplayed the formality of these developing connections, analysts and observers noted that it is progressively raising investment and exposure in a partnership that might benefit not just both countries but the entire region.

According to Valerie Niquet, a researcher with the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris, “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is a difficult environment, but the characteristic of the China is to seek out where no one else goes, trying to gain advantages.”

China was the first country to name a new ambassador (Mr Jiang Zaidong) to Kabul, Afghanistan, and Chinese President Xi Jinping received the credentials of the Taliban regime’s envoy to Beijing, along with those of many other diplomats. China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin stated, “I think official acceptance of the Afghan government will occur naturally when the worries of all parties will be vigorously addressed.”

To strengthen its capabilities and provide whatever help is necessary, Beijing is extending its arms to Kabul.

China and Russia abstained from a UN Security Council resolution last month that demanded the appointing of a special representative to Afghanistan-a move that the Taliban regime is vehemently opposed to. The international community expects a more inclusive government and better protection for minorities. Particularly, for schoolgirls and women to work and pursue education. However, Beijing can retain contacts with the remainder of the world while simultaneously adhering to Beijing’s strategy of rotating ambassadors without formal recognition. “China does not care about women’s rights fundamentally; it won’t impose conditions if its objective is to get nearer to the Taliban regime,” Niquet stated.

Conversely, there has been comment from Taliban officials regarding the maltreatment and violations of rights experienced by Muslim Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang province, which borders Afghanistan.

However, Kabul was viewed as an absurdity by most of the world, and Islamabad’s diplomacy has been unable to mend its relationship on several occasions. To strengthen its capabilities and provide whatever help is necessary, Beijing is extending its arms to Kabul. Islamabad, a Muslim nation, has expressed frustration with the Afghan Taliban’s lack of action against the TTP, which is illegal and has conducted multiple terrorist acts in Pakistan.

Pakistan must realize the Taliban mentality that permeates its interactions with Afghanistan’s near neighbours and observe how it affects both their approach to bilateral dispute resolution and Pakistan’s ties with them. Though the situation does not seem completely hopeless, it does call for sophisticated approaches to deal with the new difficulties. whether the problems are about transnational megaprojects, trade and economy, border security, or terrorist threats, the first step must be to communicate with the Taliban through official channels. The Taliban leadership’s verbal promises and evasive remarks will not hold up or alter the situation. The top head of the Taliban issued a religious rule about jihad abroad, which delighted Taliban supporters in Pakistan. But nothing has changed in this regard. Pakistan should consider the Taliban’s relationships with Beijing and other neighbouring borders to foresee economic potential. Analysts speculate that the Taliban might start a water war in the area. Issues with Tehran and Tashkent have already increased because of the group’s attitude to water resources. A long-standing water issue between Afghanistan and Iran is symbolized by the 1973 Helmand River Water Treaty between the two countries, which was never completely ratified or put into effect. Despite this, both nations used diplomacy to preserve a balanced relationship. Tensions along the Iranian border have increased because of the Taliban’s expedited dam development. Ideological disagreements and anti-Shia attitudes among Iran as well as the Taliban may become apparent if water security concerns are not managed appropriately. With an emphasis on trade and economic cooperation, Tashkent has continued to have a pragmatic engagement with the Taliban regime. It was the most hopeful nation, behind Pakistan, regarding the Taliban regime’s ability to open routes to landlocked areas. This hope was dulled, though, when the Taliban started the Qosh Tepa Canal project, which would have affected several Central Asian governments by diverting water from the Amu Darya. Tensions increased as a result, and electrical power from Tashkent to Afghanistan was briefly interrupted before being resumed. Tashkent has decided to build a tri-national railway with Afghanistan and Pakistan despite these difficulties. Through Termez, Tashkent, and the Logar Province in Afghanistan, the $5 billion project seeks to link Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif to Pakistan’s Karachi border crossing. This railroad is viewed as a significant step towards enhancing regional connectivity and trade.

The first idea was to construct a railway line that would run through Mazar-i-Sharif to Kabul and then to Torkham, which is located near the Pakistani border. But now the route has been changed to pass through Kurram. The rationale behind this was the Taliban regime’s desire to create a sturdy base of support for their cause and to develop Afghanistan’s impoverished eastern and central provinces. Beijing intends to formally include Afghanistan in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the tri-nation railway. Planning for the undertaking is still in its early phases, though. Further implementation delays could be brought on by Pakistan’s economic circumstances, but this additionally depends on the Taliban’s stance on handling other conflicts.

However, this also hinges on the Taliban’s stance on how it will manage other issues with Uzbekistan, particularly the Amu Darya diversion and the Taliban’s dearth of qualified water specialists and diplomatic attitude.

Many transnational energy and infrastructure projects, like the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipelines project and the CASA-100 electricity project that connects Central Asia to Pakistan, have left the Central Asian states, Pakistan, and Afghanistan with bitter memories. The main reasons these projects were postponed were complex regional strategic realities and security concerns. Although the Taliban can guarantee the safety of international ventures, this might not be sufficient to establish a political and strategic climate that is favourable to these kinds of endeavours.

Although there is no water-sharing agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan, both countries share the Kabul River. Tensions over water security have already arisen between the two nations; recently, local Taliban leaders have begun to threaten projects aimed at diverting rivers and building dams. Pakistan’s lifeline is the Indus, and any interruption to its flow could be disastrous for the nation. Even though this is an expensive endeavour, and the Taliban leadership cannot carry it out on its own or receive any support from outside, they have made their intentions clear.

Although there is no water-sharing agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan, both countries share the Kabul River. Tensions over water security have already arisen between the two nations; recently, local Taliban leaders have begun to threaten projects aimed at diverting rivers and building dams. Pakistan’s lifeline is the Indus, and any interruption to its flow would be disastrous for the nation. Even though this is an expensive endeavour, and the Taliban leadership cannot carry it out on its own or receive any support from outside, they have made their intentions clear.

The Taliban want to unite support for their system by connecting it to an Afghan nationalism imbued with religious beliefs through the advancement of long-delayed water-related projects. If Afghanistan’s neighbours are not harmed, they will not mind the Taliban’s ideologically motivated nationalism. their core interests.

The Taliban’s ideologically motivated nationalism is likely to be accepted by Afghanistan’s neighbours if it does not interfere with their fundamental interests. The neighbours of Afghanistan have been keeping a close eye on the Taliban’s activities up to this point. They choose bilateral settlements despite several regional frameworks such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Pakistan’s reliance on unofficial routes, which have shown to be inefficient in the past and hold extraordinarily little hope for the future, is a major reason the country’s efforts have not yet been successful.

When it comes to diplomatic relations with Afghanistan, China has been most skilled. Along with establishing trilateral and quadrilateral networks involving Pakistan and Tashkent, it has continued to maintain a working bilateral engagement with the Taliban. Even if Beijing benefits from the SCO on a multilateral level, it is still hesitant to deepen its commercial connections with Afghanistan.

Islamabad’s foreign policy pundits with the Taliban need to be reevaluated carefully because of their unpredictable diplomatic behaviour. Emerging Being and Taliban nexus has expressed itself diplomatically with a marked boldness that worries its neighbours. Pakistan’s nascent administration needs to organize its responses appropriately.

The writer is a freelance columnist.

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