Chinese mediation to end Pakistan-Afghanistan animosity

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China has expressed a desire to take on a role as mediator between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office said in the statement on Monday, Tolo News reported.

“China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is scheduled to visit Kabul soon where he will meet Afghan officials to discuss ways to improve Afghanistan-Pakistan relations,” the statement said.

It added that the Chinese foreign minister would work to discuss the possibility of setting up a meeting between the four members of the Quadrilateral Coordination Committee ─ Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China.

“It is the first time that China wants to be a mediator in Afghanistan’s peace process and soon the Chinese Foreign Minister will visit Kabul. Peace with Pakistan was our demand and this must be solved between government and government,” Ghani said, according to the statement.

The development follows a spate of deadly attacks in the country.

Two weeks ago, a suicide truck bomber detonated his explosives in the Kabul city, killing over 150 people wounding hundreds other.

No group, including the Taliban, claimed responsibly for the attack.

Read more: China & Pakistan: Evolution of a Strategic Relationship that created CPEC…

The underlying Chinese interests in this mediation

In order to ensure the continuation of the steady economic growth, China needs peace within and peace in its near abroad.

China is a fast developing country with the second largest economy in the world. It is now investing billions of dollars in One Belt One Road (OBOR) project which is expected to reopen the old silk route between China and Europe via the Eurasian heartland.

In order to ensure the continuation of the steady economic growth, China needs peace within and peace in it’s near abroad. The unrest in Afghanistan has threatened the internal security of China.  The rise of ISIS and other terrorist organizations in Afghanistan is not very well received in Beijing. The mere thought of links between East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement and ISIS in Afghanistan have rung alarm bells within Chinese civil and military establishment which is already facing unrest in the volatile, largely uninhabited, Muslim majority, Sinkiang province. Peaceful Afghanistan which is currently a safe heaven for many notorious terrorist organizations will neutralize the threat of possible future coordination between ISIS and ETIM.

Moreover, CPEC which is the extension of OBOR project has increased Chinese stakes in Pakistan which are directly impacted by unrest in Afghanistan. China’s willingness to mediate between Pakistan and Afghanistan indicates its desire to bring an end to the animosity between the two states which has exacerbated the security situation in Afghanistan in particular and the region in general.

China is part of Quadrilateral Coordination Committee which facilitated dialogue between Afghan Taliban and the government in Murree in 2015. This dialogue did not bear any meaningful results; however, it did depict the Chinese stakes in Afghanistan which include military and economic prospects.

Pakistan-Afghanistan deteriorating relationship

The resurgent Afghan Taliban have control over more than 50 % of Afghanistan. ISIS is also slowly gaining ground and the Afghan security forces seem helpless in the face of this onslaught.

Chinese offer of mediation between the two restive countries come at a time when Afghanistan has been rocked by vicious attacks which has resulted in hundreds of deaths in recent months. The resurgent Afghan Taliban have control over more than 50 % of Afghanistan. ISIS is also slowly gaining ground and the Afghan security forces seem helpless in the face of this onslaught.

Read more: Prospects of China’s mediation with Saudi Arabia and Iran; Where Pakistan…

Afghanistan has repeatedly accused Pakistan of fanning terrorism in the country. These claims have been reciprocated by Pakistan which accuses Afghanistan of sponsoring terrorism inside its territory in collaboration with premier Indian intelligence agency.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani even blamed Pakistan of waging an undeclared war against Afghanistan by supporting Taliban whom he accused of most of the recent terrorist attacks in his country.

The blame game between the two countries has deteriorated the relationship between them which has resulted in aggravation of security situation in Afghanistan.

The way forward

Pakistan over the years has expressed its willingness to support the Afghan government. Pakistan civilian and military officials visit Kabul regularly in an effort to develop confidence between the two countries.

China is an important global player and maintains clout over most of the third world countries. Its offer to mediate between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been welcomed by both Kabul and Islamabad. Both these states must avail this offer to ensure peaceful relationship among them which is necessary for fighting the menace of terrorism plaguing both the countries for well over a decade now.

The USA also has an important role to play in ending the mistrust between these two countries. It can use its influence to convince the two to coordinate on security issues.

Pakistan over the years has expressed its willingness to support the Afghan government. Pakistan civilian and military officials visit Kabul regularly in an effort to develop confidence between the two countries.

However, the recent escalations on Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Chaman and the terrorist attacks inside Afghanistan have resulted in cold relations in recent months. However, the only solution of bringing peace in the region is coordination between the two to fight the menace of terrorism and bring stability in the region.

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