China: New Afghanistan and new Taliban
UNEXPECTED easy and smooth fall of Kabul has now drastically changed the “chess board” of power politics in the region and beyond.
There are certain winners and losers of the prolonged 20 years of “franchised’ US war after spending more than 2 trillion US dollars and ultimately achieved nothing but “forced” evacuations.
Nevertheless it has now “open” new window of opportunity for the main stakeholders especially China to play a “leading” role in the reconstruction and restoration and peace and stability in Afghanistan.
That is way China showed its intentions clear to deepen “friendly and cooperative” relations with Afghanistan following the country’s takeover by the Taliban.
Moreover, a Chinese government spokesperson had said, “The Taliban have repeatedly expressed their hope to develop good relations with China, and that they look forward to China’s participation in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.”
The spokesperson had also called on the Taliban to “ensure a smooth transition” of power and keep its promises to negotiate the establishment of an “open and inclusive Islamic government” and ensure the safety of Afghans and foreign citizens.
She vowed that China respects Afghan people’s right to decide their own destiny and future, and is willing to continue to develop friendship and cooperation with Afghanistan.
She committed that China will play a constructive role for peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan.
According to the Spokesperson China has always played a constructive role in promoting a political solution to the Afghan issue, and maintained contacts and communications with the Afghan Taliban and other sides, on the basis of full respect for the sovereignty of the Afghan state and the wishes of the various factions in the country.
Furthermore, in her daily press briefing Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying welcomed Taliban’s promises of the establishment of an open and inclusive government and reassured that it will continue playing a constructive role in the political settlement of Afghan issues.
She shared that China, as biggest neighboring country of Afghanistan, would always respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that China will stick to non-intervention and friendly policies toward all Afghan people.
In this context, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi appreciated the Taliban’s recent remarks on its desire to protect the Afghan people and termed it a positive sign, but nevertheless attached future of Afghanistan on the policies of Taliban.
Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi urged the Taliban to stay committed to peace talks and pursue an inclusive policy during their meeting in China’s Tianjin Municipality on July 28.
After the major changes in Afghanistan’s situation, Wang also spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to exchange views on the developments in Afghanistan.
In a telephonic conversation, Federal Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi informed his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, that he would be making visits to other countries to develop a “regional consensus on the evolving situation in Afghanistan and desired that decision to recognise the Taliban regime in Afghanistan should be a regional one.
During the telephonic conversation, Qureshi shared with Yi the details of a recently held National Security Committee (NSC) which was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, convened to discuss Pakistan’s future strategy on Afghanistan which laid emphasis on an “inclusive political settlement” in Afghanistan, for which he said all Afghans would have to work together.
Qureshi termed a peaceful and stable Afghanistan of critical importance for Pakistan and the entire region and to achieve this goal Pakistan had been assiduously supporting the Afghan peace process.
Pakistani Foreign Minister also acknowledged the significant contribution made by China and Pakistan, as part of Troika Plus, to support the initiative for restoring peace in the war-torn country.
Meanwhile, leaders from the West have been reaching out to discuss the evolving situation in the neighbouring country especially with Pakistan.
In this connection, Prime Minister Imran Khan had received telephone calls from his British counterpart Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
During conversation the prime minister had underscored paramount importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan for Pakistan and the region.
He had also stressed that safety and security as well as protection of rights of all Afghans was critically important.
He had further underlined that an inclusive political settlement was the best way forward, saying that Pakistan was reaching out to all Afghan leaders for the purpose.
Even most recently, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had called his counterpart Qureshi to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
Qureshi had assured Blinken that Pakistan would remain closely engaged with the US and other international partners in “promoting efforts for supporting a peaceful and stable Afghanistan”.
Interestingly, the rapid rise of the Taliban astounded the world, raising fears that they would return to the repressive order witnessed during their initial rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
On the other hand, in Doha Afghan and Taliban negotiators tentatively reached a deal in which all sides would declare a two-week cease-fire in exchange for President Ashraf Ghani’s resignation and the start of talks on setting up a transitional government.
Under the terms of the tentative agreement, the cease-fire would have led the way for former President Hamid Karzai and other current and former officials to broker some sort of power-sharing deal with the militant group ousted from power nearly two decades ago.
Karzai has remained in Kabul after the Taliban takeover. In Doha Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and group’s chief negotiator urged not to embrace arrogance because “Now is the time when we will be tested on how we serve and secure our people, and ensure their good life and future to the best of our ability.”
Rigorous negotiations are going on to “ensure that the transition process is completed safely and securely, without compromising the lives, property and honour of anyone. The Taliban also vowed to form an inclusive government that represents the entire country.
Meanwhile, Taliban held their first Press conference after taking over Kabul, saying they did not want to have any internal or external enemies and intended to form an inclusive government in Afghanistan.
In this regard, its supreme leader declared a general amnesty, promising to ensure the safety of the contractors and translators who had worked for the US and allied forces, government soldiers and those whose families were attempting to leave Afghanistan. Being prominent regional expert I suggest that China, Pakistan, Russia and Uzbekistan sho
uld form a regional group to restore peace and stability in Afghanistan and help out Taliban to be remain on right direction and right path for the greater regional security and connectivity.
Prospects have now again been brightened to achieve greater regional connectivity, immense socio-economic prosperity and integration of energy and food security between Central Asia and South Asia after the Taliban better war and peace strategies and befitting diplomatic gestures for an inclusive government, protection of women rights and no discrimination against any weaker faction or community in Afghanistan.
—The writer is Director, Geopolitics/Economics Member Board of Experts, CGSS.