Afghanistan-China Ties after Atmar Visit

Undoubtedly, Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor, Mr. Hanif Atmar’s visit to China contributes to regional cooperation, especially in trade and security issues. Afghanistan’s national policy regarding socio-economic development is very clear and believes in a friendly environment for mutual interest based on peaceful ties and trade. This approach is very close to China’s foreign policy in the region and there are multiple reasons that can engage China to play a constructive role in bringing peace in war-torn Afghanistan. As expressed by a Chinese scholar, Chen Xiaochen, that “the reason are multiple including the US global rebalancing, the need for stabilizing Afghanistan and the region for mutual interest, the Afghan government’s inability to restore peace in the country and region, and China’s growing role in resolving international and regional issues.

Recently, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the USA and China jointly agreed to support Afghanistan’s owned peacemaking efforts in Afghanistan while addressing the concerns of the insurgent groups in the region. Unfortunately, the sincere efforts of Afghan government were not appreciated by some quarters in the region, however, it emerged that China had a keen interest in ending Afghanistan’s decades-old conflict through peaceful means; as a peaceful Afghanistan can be transferred into a hub of transaction for trade and industrial development and peaceful strategic ties in the region as well.

Furthermore, the Chinese expert suggested four reasons why the US, China, and Afghanistan future cooperation were important; as China and the US both have an interest in a peaceful and self-sustaining Afghanistan. On the diplomatic front, China, the US, and Afghanistan are already engaged in trilateral cooperation.

Moreover, US pressure on Pakistan has had limited effects and China could help reshape the dialogue. As an “all-weather friend” of Pakistan, China is well-positioned to play the role of constructive mediator, especially because Washington-Islamabad relations have deteriorated over the years. Afghanistan’s stability is essential to the success of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative. So the China-US cooperation to restore peace in Afghanistan is not a zero-sum game.

From China’s perspective, the border between Afghanistan and its Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region means it will continue to have a stake in its neighbor’s stability. Since the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative envisions pipelines, telecom, and high-speed railway connecting China with Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe with Xinjiang as the hub, China has to make efforts to ensure that terrorists, separatists, and extremists do not receive training in the lawless Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and threaten its future projects.

Investment is crucial for economic growth and social stability, and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank can play a positive role in this regard in Afghanistan. Also, new channels of finance such as the Silk Road Fund can boost investment in Afghanistan.

In Kabul, high hopes have been pinned to Afghan NSA’s Beijing visit. On Monday  Mr. Mohammad Hanif Atmar, the national security advisor to the Afghan President met with Mr.  Meng Jianzhu, the  head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China. Hailing the partnership between China and Afghanistan, Mr. Meng said it is in both countries’ national interest to cooperate more in law enforcement. The Afghan ANS, Mr. Atmar called on both sides to deepen cooperation in fighting terrorism, drug control and cracking down on organized crimes so as to jointly safeguard the security and stability of the two countries and the region. Atmar said Afghanistan attaches great importance to developing friendly ties with China. Afghanistan is willing to cooperate more in law enforcement to help strengthen overall ties, he said.

It is feared that China will risk losing Pakistan as a military strategic partner if China gives much importance to Afghanistan in its efforts to tackling security measure against religious terrorism. But, China should also understand that the foreign policy of Pakistan is not so transparent, given the past experiences.

Unlike Pakistani expansionist designs, Both Afghanistan and China have a common vision for peace and prosperity in the region. Pakistan has a huge hungry population and an unruly army that can turn the tables if they receive funds from another third force in the future. The Chinese future economic strategies are highly unlikely to be achieved without a peaceful Afghanistan and an independent Balochistan.  History tells us that Pakistan doesn’t wish to see stability in both nations.

Pakistan army‘s link with the black economy is something that can disturb the peace of Iran, India, Afghanistan and China as well. Pakistan policy makers should recognize the fact that they can’t win the hearts of Baloch and Afghan nations through sponsoring terrorism and fundamentalism in their territories. Pakistan should come with a peaceful solution to the problems of the region while promoting democratic values and recognizing the growing ties of China and Afghanistan as well India in the region.

Afghan National Security Advisor understands the situation and the Afghan nation welcomes the sympathy of the people of China in addressing the existing challenges. After all, we all are facing the same problems of terrorism, fundamentalism, and religious fanaticism as the China had before and after 1848.

China, as a responsible nation, should rethink its unchecked support to Pakistan and exert its good influence to make it respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan and other nations in the neighborhood; otherwise, the nations in the region continue to suffer from Pakistani sponsored terrorism. The dream of peace and prosperity of the region cannot be realized in the coming decades if things were left at the mercy of Punjab led Pakistani jihadi Army.

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The Afghan Tribune | Editorial | Published: April 21, 2016, 03:43 PM

 

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