Monday 20th of May 2024

Expectation for the China’s role in Afghanistan and Region
Mahdi Munadi
Region : AsiaNorthEastAsia, China,
Issue : Security, Terrorism,
Fareed Zakaria, in his book titled "Post-American World" talks about "Rise of the Rest" such as China, India and Brazil and so on. The "Rest" or the rising countries due to the economic growth generate new global landscape where power is shifting and producing political confidence and national pride. Through this opinion, expectation from a country such as china is growing in our region. These days, it is heard at various different forums that China shows its willingness for mediation between Afghan-Government and Taliban. As far as, peace process between Afghan-Government and Taliban since 2008 has not produced any tangible results, it has been changed into a boring narrative with different possible scenarios foreseen. People inside Afghanistan due to the ethnicity and perception of human rights, has got two dominant view on peace process: those who are affiliated to Taliban due to the ethnicity and human rights believe that peace is the only way and those who are not engaged with these issues are emphasizing on power politics and calling off the peace process. In the region, countries such as China, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and many other countries are insisting on peace process to go on and offered their roles play as mediators. . China due to the deep friendship with Pakistan and its huge influence over Taliban is trying to convince Afghan leaders to accept its mediation. In this article I will explore the regional expectation and elements of China's role in Afghan peace process.
In a broader perspective, Afghanistan is a sacrifice of terrorism. It is believed in Afghanistan that radicalism is scattered in the whole region. Al Qaida and radical groups are linked with different organizations in FATA, Afghanistan, Fergana valley, Chechen, Xinjiang and Middle East countries. Increasing threats from these sources are one of Afghanistan’s concerns in post US withdrawal. After 1980s, Afghanistan mentally was accepted as hub to connect regional radicals. After the collapse of Taliban, Pakistani military, especially ISI, supported Al Qaeda and other radicals to work with Taliban or with the name of Taliban. Since 2008 the remaining officials of Taliban have been interested in negotiations with the government, but Al Qaeda and other regional radicals and ISI did not let the Taliban to accept peace and changing into a political group or party. Peace process internally until disclosing the death of Mullah Omar, created disunity among militaries in one side, caused miscommunications among militaries and politicians on the other side. Through this process china is interested to work as mediator for peace. China in 1990 strategically had strong relations with Taliban with purpose of having control on Xinxiang's radicals to prevent any attacks in China. To this end, China’s representative convened meeting with Mullah Omar to convince China’s radicals. The prominent jihad strategist AbuMus’ab al-Suri explains Taliban policy toward ETIM and China during the 1990s:

“The jihadist of Eastern Turkistan went back to their homeland and recruited mujahidin who were brought back to Afghanistan and trained in military tactics, which were to be used against the Chinese government… this group recognized Mullah Omar as the official imam. Facing strong American pressure, the Taliban ordered the east Turkistan group to cease their attacks against China. The Taliban wanted friendly relation with China as a way to counter the American threats.”
China’s support for Pakistan and Pakistan’s support for the Taliban had some implications for China. China was the first non-Islamic country to hold an ambassadorial meeting with Mullah Omar in 2001. In this meeting, Mullah Omar reportedly assured the Chinese Ambassador that ETIM would not be allowed to attack China from Afghanistan. China with the support of Pakistan and connecting with Taliban could save itself from Radicals and now it is believed in china they can facilitate mediation with the support of Pakistan for the Afghan peace process. China asking this job coincidently with Pakistan's asking for mediation in peace process. As far as Pakistan is strategic partner for china and has strong effect on China foreign policy toward Afghanistan, Chinese proposal is believed through Pakistan policy. On Afghan perception, Peace through Pakistan mediation will be the continuity of Pakistan national interests inside Afghanistan, because Taliban after disclosing of death of Mullah Omar, it was Pakistan who rebuilt the Taliban.
In a broader perspective, as reflection of rising China and strategies such as "one belt one road" Afghanistan and global expectation assume for China to have greater responsibility for region and specially Afghanistan problems. Insisting just for mediation in peace process between Afghan- government with a group such as Taliban who is not very much important among radical groups in FATA, Fergana valley, Chechen, Xinjiang and Middle East cannot protect Chinese economic strategies. Additionally working just as a mediator in peace process is the cheapest job which China has proposed for the Afghanistan and the region.
However, Afghan officials during last 14 years had afforded too much to involve China in regional affairs. While China's involvement in Afghanistan was mainly focused on the economic sphere, especially in natural resources investment while making a limited contribution to security and politics in Afghanistan, Afghan officials have been making more trips and visits to Beijing to strengthen their relations so far. The only achievement during 7 trips of president Karzai to Beijing having a mutual statement on strategic cooperation on 2012 and then visiting one of permanent member of China communist party with his delegation from Kabul which shows a new period of cooperation between two countries.
Due to the high expectation of region for the rising China as great game changer, still China's foreign policy is just economic oriented in the Afghanistan and the region. There are limited security commitments, which are mostly understood under Pakistan foreign Policy. While region need more creative and strategic involvement to defeat ISIS and other rising radical groups in the Afghanistan and the region. Afghanistan and region are linked with each other's; Strategic success in Afghanistan is critical to strategic success in Central Asia, south of Asia and vice versa. Due to the rising of anarchism's elements in international relation, necessity of protecting national interests got more serious. It is not an easy job for a single country to overcome threats, even U.S, Russia and China cannot do it lonely. So we need cooperation to defeat scattered radicalism in the region which is changing to terrorism. A stable Afghanistan and region cannot be achieved lonely and just with small mediation between Afghan-Government and dependent Taliban, rather it is necessary to eliminate the scattered radical who are supporting Taliban in the mentioned countries.
Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FORE INDIA.

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