Convergence of Pakistan, Afghanistan and China


Farhat Asif

REGIONAL dynamics are changing with a fast pace. New initiatives including One Belt One Road (OBOR) and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are slowly and steadily transforming the economic, political and strategic outlook of the entire horizon. Recent Foreign Minister’s first ever moot between Afghanistan, Pakistan and China in Beijing is another such step in the direction to build synergies between the countries for the regional peace and security. With mounting presence of ISIS, terrorism and other non state actors, rise in the proxy wars amongst state are the source of tension and grievance for the ordinary people. Having high level of potential, the countries of the region have far less than the potential trade volume, hindering the growth and togetherness to the level that can be achieved but remained as distant dream till this day. Role of major power like China, has continued to remain based on dialogue, peaceful coexistence and inclusive.
China’s approach towards the region is to encourage countries to resolve their disputes in peaceful manner for future prosperity, develop trust especially to address the deadlock between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Keeping in view the ideals of President Xi-Jinping of peaceful co-existence, Beijing hosted the trilateral dialogue between the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan and China early this week. China’s role has remained as a facilitator during these dialogue initiatives and it has always encouraged the states to discourse and argue subjects of convergences and divergences hence to move ahead with a common strategy of peace and prosperity for the entire region. China’s role has remained important in promoting the talks between the two “uneasy” neighbors having troublesome ties for the last seven decades. The main objective of this moot was also to develop a joint action plan for exchanging views and information related to development, connectivity, security, reconciliation process with Taliban and joint efforts for counter-terrorism.
During the summit, the important development that needs to be highlighted here is the case in point of including the Afghan Taliban in the mainstream dialogue process. As a result of the widening gap between Pakistan and Afghanistan during the past several months, this was a welcome move. Both sides were accusing each other for supporting the insurgent Taliban combating the US supported Kabul government, for a while. Afghanistan is accusing Pakistan for the support as to cordon the Indian influence in Afghanistan while Pakistan is blaming Afghanistan for not been able to put its house in order and cause of terrorism in the country. Both deny these blames while Pakistan reiterates the aim to see a stable Afghanistan in the larger interest of the region. Despite these blame games, to be honest with the region, Afghanistan needs to be looking inward in order to develop and improve the lives of its citizens. Afghanistan also need to improve its regional ties through engagement in the regional initiatives like CPEC, OBOR and BRI. On the other hand, role of China in mending fences between Pakistan and Afghanistan is appreciable. Another reason for bringing together Pakistan and Afghanistan on the table for dialogue is that China is also facing threats of its homegrown insurgency raising its head in the Xinxiang region. Bringing together Afghanistan and Pakistan is to improve the ties will help better tackle the emerging violence in the countries.
As a flagship project between Pakistan and China, the CPEC has remained the eye of the storm for India as it has always looked at the project with apprehensions. One of the reasons behind India’s criticism is that part of it runs through the Kashmir region and because of the illegal occupation of India and its tough headedness of seeing the prosperity coming to the Kashmir region wherein Pakistan is keeping it in the loop for sharing the development and connectivity initiatives connected to CPEC. India has remained putting such blames on Pakistan in the past and as a result of its political interests, will continue to do so in the future. However, China has given a befitting response to all the questions that CPEC has nothing to do with the territorial disputes and is only meant to improve the lives of the region which has already been marred with conflicts and menace like poverty.
Visionary Chinese leadership with OBOR, BRI and CPEC are building modern-day “ Silk Road” connecting the Chinese economy with the Southeast, Central Asia, Middle East , Europe and beyond through land and the sea. These connectivity projects will provide enough space for the countries to converge rather than diverge hence opportunities for resolving conflicts and disputes will improve. The development will be manifold and for all. China is a global economy with its massive outreach and benefits that Pakistan and Afghanistan can easily gain as a result of the close relations with the China as having geographical proximity. There is only need for both Afghanistan and Pakistan to put their house in order to ripe the fruits of the prosperity.
– The writer is president, Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies and President, Pakistan-Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Friendship Forum.