EXCLUSIVE | Why China is eyeing a larger role in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and how it might impact India
New Delhi | Aalok Sensharma: Since the United States-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance started withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan that ultimately led to the fall of Kabul, China has been looking to expand its relationship with the Taliban with an aim to play a crucial role in the war-ravaged country in the future.
China, which has crowed over the US' failure in conceivable ways, has also decided to keep its embassy in Kabul open and increase the humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, the Taliban claimed after a telephonic conversation with Beijing's deputy foreign minister Wu Jianghao.
"The Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister said that they would maintain their embassy in Kabul, adding our relations would beef up as compared to the past. Afghanistan can play an important role in security and development of the region," said Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, as reported by AFP.
Regional observers and analysts believe that China's new Afghan policy has three broad objectives -- (a) build an exclusive moderate regime to prevent terrorism from spilling over to Xinjiang, (b) its interest in the rare earth mineral resources and (c) it is looking at the prospect of extra security for its narrow land route through Karakoram mountains into Pakistan which is open to interdiction.
Speaking to Jagran English, Brigadier Arun Sahgal (Retd), Executive Director of the Forum for Strategic Initiative, said that India now needs to review its role and scope of involvement in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan as China, along with Pakistan, is on the "threshold of becoming key players" in Kabul.
However, Brigadier Sahgal believes that a "moderate Taliban" might maintain close economic and trade relationships with India and could induce Pakistan to open land routes.
"India has unfortunately backed wrong forces in Afghanistan, first tacit support to Russia and now to the Americans and West. Events in Afghanistan have severely undermined Indian leverages. With China, Pakistan and Turkey filling the vacuum, the Indian developmental role will be further undermined," he told Jagran English.
He also believes that China will not "fully upstage India" and would look to seek regional diplomacy to deal with the emerging situation. Brigadier Sahgal said that once the initial euphoria is over for Pakistan, it will soon have to count the costs and "if Chinese trade corridors shift to Afghanistan, Middle East via Iran and Turkmenistan, its own importance will reduce".
Will the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan have an impact on Muslim-minority Uyghur separatists?
When asked about the Taliban's impact on Uyghur, Brigadier Sahgal said that China aims to prevent the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from becoming home to radical forces which is one of the reasons why it wants to increase its influence there. He said that China will also coordinate with Pakistan on this issue and might take "military steps to ensure their infiltration attempts are curbed".
"With American pressure easing off and close collaboration of ETIM with the Taliban, the insurgency situation in Xinjiang can deteriorate," Brigadier Sahgal told Jagran English. "Towards this, it has already reached out to the Taliban to protect its western Xinjiang region from Turkestan Islamic Movement (TIM) cadres who could seek sanctuary in Afghanistan as also neighbouring countries Tajikistan".
The situation in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan remains volatile and unpredictable and India, along with the rest of the world, needs to wait and watch as these are early days.
(The above article has been written by Aalok Sensharma, Senior Sub-Editor, Jagran New Media.)
Posted By: Aalok Sensharma
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