Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

How China Can Contribute to Afghanistan Peace Building

Pakistan plays a critical role in Afghanistan. It has been behind creation of different military groups in the country and have control over them. Taliban is also a group created by Pakistan, especially supported by the military elites and fundamentalist clerics and Saudi Arabia deterrence policies. The US has given a special attention and status to Pakistan in Afghan Peace talks. Many observers believe that without Pakistan’s support reaching to a viable peace in Afghanistan is impossible. Why Afghanistan Matters for China Built and Road Initiative China needs to have good relations with South Asian Nations and to boost its economic interests. This requires a peaceful and stable Afghanistan to facilitate Chain’s reach to the South Asian countries. As China has an ambitious plan to realize its vision by BRI, it has pledged to invest an estimated $62 billion bundle of projects that forms the cornerstone of China’s sweeping Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to build infrastructure, expand trade links, and deepen ties across Eurasia and Africa. Extending CPEC to Afghanistan Stabilizes the Country Pakistan’s shift from strategic depth to geostrategic approach to Afghanistan is seen as a key turning point that can have immense implications on the relations of the two country and region. Such strategic shifting is considered a rational policy by Pakistan to align its policies with China’s economic policies in the region including CEPEC. CEPEC has a strategic significance for Afghanistan; because it not only can bring peace to the country, but it provides strategic economic development opportunities to Afghanistan and changes the country to a major transit player in the region. CPEC is a great project that is equally relevant to Afghanistan like Pakistan and it is not only good for Pakistan but it is good for the entire region including Afghanistan. CPEC will contribute to economic development and prosperity of Afghanistan. Further, Afghanistan by becoming a part of the CPEC can recover the damages of war it has suffered during the four decades of war. Considering the significance of CPEC for Afghanistan Beijing has also made moves to extend CPEC to Afghanistan, looking to stabilize the country and improve its political and economic links to the country as U.S. troops withdrawal completes by September 2021. In addition to this, Beijing has proposed “sizeable investments in energy and infrastructure projects” in Afghanistan in hopes of ensuring a peaceful transition if there is a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. CPEC as A Means of Regional Partnership Economic experts think CPEC is not limited to Pakistan, it is for the entire region particularly Central Asia. CPEC can benefit Afghanistan and Central Asian countries by enhancing connectivity of the region. Economic observers believe (CPEC), is not only intensifying Pakistan’s importance to Asia but advancing regional connectivity across Central and South Asia. The project provides opportunities for regional connectivity by involving multiple states in developmental projects that all parties can benefit. Through the modalities of connectivity made possible by this flagship BRI initiative, the landlocked Central Asian Republics (CARs) and Afghanistan can now envision gaining access to the Indian Ocean and South Asia, enhancing their bilateral or multilateral economic relations through enhanced trade opportunities. Saudi Arabia and Iran Rivalry is one of the causes of long conflict and war in Afghanistan. As Iran and Saudi Arabia have also shown interest to be part of the CPEC, it improves the likelihood of reaching to a sustainable peace deal in Afghanistan to accelerate CPEC as part of BRI to provide them huge economic benefits. Pakistan has welcomed the interest shown by Iran and Saudi Arabia. Political and economic experts think CPEC as part of BRI is a great opportunity for Afghanistan. As different players are involved in the war in Afghanistan, there should be a strategic alternative to satisfy them to cooperate in restoring peace in Afghanistan in order to enjoy economic benefits that CPEC and BRI provide them. Pakistan has continuously supported Taliban, facilitated recruitment, training and equipping them, sending them to Afghanistan and has financed them as part of Pakistan military’s doctrine of “strategic depth”. China’s BRI and CPEC as part of it can play a significant role in Pakistan military’s doctrine shift to economic geostrategic doctrine that can bring peace to Afghanistan and region. As a result, Afghanistan neighboring countries, region and beyond can benefit from the economic privileges of these projects. CPEC will also bring the two arch foes namely Iran and Saudi Arabia to cooperate in bringing peace in Afghanistan in order to benefit from economic benefits of it. Although, all of these seem as a miracle, but China can help Afghanistan to realize this big dream by BRI and CPEC implementation.