China-Pakistan Cooperation on Afghanistan

By Muhammad Asif Noor | Gwadar Pro May 8, 2023

Amidst escalating violence, rising regional tensions, persistent terrorism, security threats, and an ever-deepening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, Pakistan has convened a crucial day-long trilateral dialogue, with top diplomats from China and Afghanistan, to discuss the grave situation.

With over 40 million Afghans still reeling under the burden of suffering, engaging with the Taliban has become paramount to achieving regional peace and stability. The global reputation of China, a country that has increasingly advocated for peace and cooperation, has a significant role to play in resolving the Afghan crisis together with Pakistan’s involvement. The shared business, trade, security, and strategic interests of Pakistan and China in Afghanistan underscore the need for effective bilateral and multilateral cooperation to overcome the region's connectivity challenges.

The trilateral cooperation between Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan confronts several significant challenges in light of the ongoing volatility in Afghanistan. The Taliban regime has been characterized by rampant violence and repeated violations of human rights, causing widespread concern. There are fears regarding the group's ties with notorious terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. However, despite these hurdles, China and Pakistan remain steadfast in their belief that engagement with the Taliban is necessary, given the unique concerns and interests that they share in the region.

Pakistan's proximity to Afghanistan and the increasing terrorism and security threats in the region make it vital for the country to maintain a close relationship with its neighbor. Pakistan is aware of the need to bring the Taliban into line with international norms while avoiding the extension of full diplomatic recognition. Now, China's investment and the safety of its nationals in Pakistan are being threatened by the attacks from armed groups emerging from Afghanistan. Therefore, China's involvement in Afghanistan is more about security concerns than economic interests, with Beijing seeking to minimize the threat posed by the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an al-Qaeda-affiliated group.

The participation of Afghan interim foreign minister at the trilateral dialogue carries significant weight given the current state of affairs in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban's seizure of power in August 2021, the situation in the region has remained precarious and uncertain. Taliban's efforts to project a more moderate image to the international community are critical in fostering a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. The presence of the Minister for Commerce and Industry indicates that Taliban is also interested in engaging in economic cooperation with neighboring countries. The trilateral dialogue mechanism is of great importance in building trust, enhancing cooperation, and promoting regional stability. China's emphasis on an inclusive and moderate government in Afghanistan underscores its pivotal role as a regional power broker. As an immediate neighbor to Afghanistan, Pakistan has a significant stake in the peace and stability of the region.

China and Pakistan's engagement in Afghanistan extends beyond their shared interests in trade and security. Both nations have played crucial roles in Afghanistan's peace process, with China facilitating talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, and Pakistan hosting such talks. In July 2021, China hosted a delegation of Taliban officials in Tianjin, where they met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, demonstrating China's growing influence in the region. This meeting was viewed as a significant development in the peace process, paving the way for further negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government. As a crucial regional power, China's involvement in Afghanistan has provided a vital impetus to the peace process and is an indication of China's growing presence in the region.

The cooperation between China and Pakistan in Afghanistan has become increasingly critical in ensuring regional peace, stability, and economic growth. As the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan, it is crucial to engage them and prevent the country from becoming a hotbed of terrorism and extremism. The ongoing situation in Afghanistan highlights the need for continued cooperation between China and Pakistan to work towards a peaceful and prosperous future for the Afghan people. The success of their cooperation will not only benefit Afghanistan but also contribute to regional stability and economic growth, ultimately creating a brighter future for all parties involved.

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