China’s role in Afghanistan and way forward


Dr Mehmood-ul-Hassan Khan

MOST recently a regional conference was held in China on Afghanistan which vividly reflected its positive, productive and participatory role in achieving peace, stability and harmony in the region.

Representatives from Afghanistan, China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan rigorously participated in the said conference.

Beijing spotlighted its aspirations to play a leading role in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US forces last August.

While addressing the conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping showed strong backing for Afghanistan and pledged China’s support.

President Xi showed Chinese respect for Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and pledged his commitment to supporting Afghanistan’s peaceful and stable development.

He termed a peaceful, stable, developed and prosperous Afghanistan, the need of the hour which served the common interests of regional countries and the international community.

A joint statement issued after the meeting noted the importance of ensuring women’s rights and children’s education and protecting the rights of all ethnic groups in Afghanistan.

It also “urged the countries mainly responsible for the current predicament in Afghanistan” to fulfil their commitments on its economic recovery.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang called the US to unfreeze Afghan assets held abroad and end sanctions on the government.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry said the US and NATO should “earnestly assume the primary responsibility for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, and return the property of the Afghan people as soon as possible.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi showcased that Afghanistan has achieved “certain partial results” in boosting stability, improving livelihood, and protecting human rights, Wang said, despite widespread reports of abuses and incompetent governance under the Taliban.

However, Afghanistan “has a long way to go to achieve lasting peace, sustainable development and to advance its foreign relations,” he said.

China follows a strict policy of “non-intervention” in other countries’ internal affairs.

Separately, Foreign Minister Wang also attended a meeting of special envoys for Afghanistan from China, the United States and Russia, a group known as the “Extended Troika.

” At that forum, Wang again called for an end to “unreasonable” sanctions and the unfreezing of Afghan assets, saying the US should take “practical steps” on those matters.

During his keynote speech the Chinese Foreign Minister proposed three suggestions to support Afghanistan.

Firstly, Foreign Minister Wang urged the need to support Afghanistan to achieve self-reliance and self-improvement.

Furthermore he coined to support the Afghan people to implement the holistic policy of “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” principle.

He stressed the need to realize Afghan national reconciliation and domestic solidarity, and exploring a governance model that conforms to Afghanistan’s national conditions and the development requirements of the times.

He condemned any non-regional countries’ acts that create chaos in Afghanistan and use Afghanistan to engage in geographical rivalry.

He termed that a broad-based and inclusive government, moderation and prudent governance, adhere to good-neighbourliness and friendship, and protect the fundamental rights of all Afghan people, including all ethnic groups, women and children should be encouraged.

Moreover, Foreign Minister Wang highlighted the importance of a focused approach to manage any kind of conflict resolution through caring common concerns and interests of all parties, and promote Afghanistan to fulfil its foreign commitments and assume its due responsibilities.

Secondly, he urged to support Afghanistan in embarking on a path of prosperity and progress.

He termed humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan an important issue which should be resolved as soon as possible.

He presented that we should work to improve Afghanistan’s capacity for self-reliant development. He labelled it as an essential step to synergize international forces to assist Afghanistan.

In this regard, China has provided Afghanistan with emergency assistance such as food, vaccines, medicine and winter supplies, and is still willing to promote and support Afghanistan’s integration into the regional economic pattern and participation in regional coordinated development.

Foreign Minister suggested that we should promote synergy among the international community’s bilateral and multilateral mechanisms related to Afghanistan and increase their positive effect, and support the United Nations in playing its due role.

He said that we should respect the dominant position of the Afghan Interim Government in accepting foreign aid and oppose the politicization of humanitarian aid.

Thirdly, according to him all regional countries should support Afghanistan in embarking on a path of peace and development by promoting Afghanistan to take comprehensive and multi-pronged measures to cut off terrorism at the source, resolutely crack down on all kinds of extremist terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, and ensure that Afghanistan will no longer become a hotbed, harbour or source of terrorist forces.

Finally he suggested that we should address both the symptoms and root causes of the refugee and drug problems, help Afghanistan deal with urgent livelihood issues, and support Afghanistan in carrying out alternative cultivation, so as to jointly eliminate regional drug sources.

Thus Chinese Foreign Minister presented a complete road map for the reconstruction, social uplift, economic development, political harmony, and capacity building mechanism to transform it a peaceful and prosperous country.

Most recently, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang also made a surprise stop in Kabul last week to meet Taliban leaders.

The Foreign Ministers of Qatar and Indonesia were invited to the meeting of neighbouring states as guests.

Taliban-appointed Foreign Minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, represented Afghanistan at the meeting.

Participants agreed to a mechanism for regular meetings of their special envoys for Afghanistan and three working groups to coordinate on political and diplomatic affairs, economics and humanitarianism, and security and stability.

Uzbekistan will host the fourth Foreign Ministers’ meeting. To conclude, road to political stability, economic sustainability and a harmonious Afghanistan is long and seemingly difficult task.

It suggests that China, Pakistan, Russia and all the Central Asian countries should immediately initiative diversified socio-economic projects in Afghanistan to bring it out of economic malaise.

A regional consortium should be formed to dispatch essential humanitarian assistance for the dying souls of Afghanistan because widespread poverty may derail all regional efforts of achieving peace and stability.

On its part, Afghanistan’s Taliban led interim setup should come out of it past so-called glory and gratification to reconcile with the current conflicting realities to show some important policy changes towards human rights, women education, employment, minority rights and strict actions against drugs and human trafficking along with big no to radicalization and any kind of support to terrorist activities on the soil of Afghanistan.

Only economic prosperity and bigger socio-politico bargaining of Taliban may change their psychology and transform political philosophy in the days to come.

Indonesia’s rich experiences of conflict resolution, pure humanitarian assistance and last but not least religious clergy humanistic approach must be explored and tapped in Afghanistan to achieve peace and stability.

—The writer is Director, the Centre for South Asia & International Studies Islamabad & regional expert, China, CPEC & BRI.

(Courtesy Pakistan Observer)