Pak-China cooperation for regional stability | By Dr Tao Liang 


Pak-China cooperation for regional stability

POLITICAL situation in Afghanistan is uncertain with the United States and its West allies pull major ground forces out of the region.

Here are two basic issues of general concern to the international community: one is the prospect of Afghan political situation and the other is a worry that the region could be likely again to turn into a hotbed of extremism to pose a threat to regional and world peace and stability after Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, chaos and bombing attacks at the Kabul airport after Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan have been intensifying fears.

As one of the most important geopolitical stakeholders in the region, China and Pakistan couldn’t stay out of the situation. The two countries share common interests and responsibilities to advance peace and stability in Afghanistan and its adjacent regions.

The two courtiers’ cooperation on the regional issues will not only contribute to safeguarding the interests of both sides, but also to peace and stability in the regions.

The prospect in the regions after the military withdrawal. As a “world empire”, as long as the United States defines any region on the planet as where its national strategic interests are, the regions are bound to be included in American overall foreign strategy. During the Cold War, America regarded the Middle East as a major strategic interest area.

Due to its important geostrategic position adjacent to the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, Pakistan has been absorbed in the Asian collective security defence system by the United States against the Soviet Union with other countries. Then Afghanistan was a neutral state and buffer zone among major powers in the regions

With Iranian Islamic Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979,the strategic balance in the region was broken.

Most obviously, The Iranian Revolution resulted in the United States losing important strategic ally and military base in the Middle East to impair America’s strategy to the region.

More critically, The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan acted as a strategic buffer zone between the great powers since 19th Century shattered the balance to lead to Afghanistan almost forgotten to be placed on the stage of world politics.

The United States fully supported militarily and financially Afghan resistance forces against the Soviet Union, forcing the final withdrawal of the Soviet Union to expedite the end of the Cold War.

After the Cold War, the geopolitical structures underwent fundamental changes in Central and South Asia, and a basic feature is that regional endogenous conflicts have been prevailing over games among great powers, in particular America that were not interested in the regions any more.

Notably, the United States hastily, irresponsibly made a decision to suspend completely assistance towards Afghanistan, and excluded the regional issues from its foreign strategic agenda.

Subsequently, Afghanistan was plunged into prolonged political chaos and armed conflict until Taliban came into power in Kabul.

As a result, the world and the US had to pay much for the irresponsible decision in the following years.

fghanistan and neighbourhood in turmoil became a breeding ground for religious radicalism and terrorism to cripple regional peace and stability.

America launched the 20-year war on terror while costing lots of money and young lives to pay for the past behaviours after 9/11 accidents.

Currently when the United States announced the withdrawal from Afghanistan, why the international community’s strong response to this is that a few believe the war on terror can bring lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and surrounding areas.

On the contrary, American rash military withdrawal is likely to leave a political instability and conflict, including humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the vicinity like the US policy towards Afghanistan in the early 1990s.

So the international community concerns about political stability in the country, and Afghanistan again falling into a breeding ground for terrorism and extremism leading to a humanitarian catastrophe because of the lack of confidence in the new Taliban’s regime in Kabul after American military withdrawal.

However, effects of the political changes can undoubtedly spill over into neighbour regional security and stability.

The impact on China and Pakistan: As one of the most important stakeholders in the region, China and Pakistan may be greatly affected after the US withdrawal. China can confront following two points.

Firstly, Chinese border security may be under a threat. As Afghanistan’s largest neighbour China, its Xinjiang region borders on Afghanistan. For a long time, local separatists in Xinjiang such as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) have colluded with foreign forces to carry out terrorist activities in China in order to achieve their own political goals, which exert a bad influence on Chinese social stability and development.

The solid sources uncover that ETIM is inextricably linked to religious extremism in Central and South Asia.

After the withdrawal of US troops, the uncertainty of the political situation in Afghanistan could lead to the spread of religious extremism in the regions to diffuse into China to pose a threat to Chinese border security. Secondly, Chinese economic activities in Afghanistan and the neighbourhood may be hurt.

During Afghanistan’s reconstruction, Chinese enterprises have been actively participating in the country’s social and economic recovery and development rough investment and projects to form close economic and trade relations of the two countries.

The future political turmoil in Afghanistan could not only damage China-Afghanistan economic and trade relations and Chinese enterprises in Afghanistan, but also Afghan interests. — To be continued.

—The writer is, Associate Professor, Department of History, Yunnan University in Kunming, focusing on relations of South Asian and major powers.

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