Monday, September 27, 2021

Analysis: As West considers aid to Afghanistan, China and Pakistan quick to provide relief

ISLAMABAD: Neighbors China and Pakistan have already held discussions about aid and future aid, with international donors gathering in Geneva on Monday to discuss humanitarian relief for Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban militant group.

Experts say the economy is in crisis and a humanitarian crisis is looming in the war-torn country.

Yet the United States and other Western nations are reluctant to provide funding to the Taliban unless the radical Islamist militant movement gives assurances that it will uphold human rights, and in particular the rights of women.

About $10 billion of the country’s foreign assets kept abroad are also frozen.

“The understandable purpose is to deny these funds to the Taliban administration,” Deborah Lyon, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, told the UN Security Council this week.

“However, the inevitable effect would be a severe economic downturn that could throw many millions into poverty and hunger, generate a huge wave of refugees from Afghanistan, and indeed bring Afghanistan back for generations.”

Another possible effect could be to move Afghanistan closer to its neighbors and close allies Pakistan and China, which have already sent supply planes to Afghanistan. They have also indicated that they are open to ramp-up engagements.

The Chinese regime announced last week that it would send $31 million worth of food and health supplies to Afghanistan, among the first foreign aid pledges since the Taliban came to power last month.

Pakistan sent supplies such as cooking oil and medicine to officials in Kabul last week, while the country’s foreign minister called on the international community to provide unconditional assistance and unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets.

Minerals and Terrorism

Pakistan has had deep ties with the Taliban terrorist group and has been accused of supporting the group as it fought the US-backed government in Kabul for 20 years – allegations denied by Islamabad.

With a strong alliance with Pakistan, China has also been engaging with the Taliban. Some analysts said it was attracted by the country’s mineral wealth, which includes large reserves of lithium, a key component for electric vehicles.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has also expressed concerns about terrorism that could spread across its border from Afghanistan, which it wants the Taliban to help.

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Beyond humanitarian aid, one possibility is Afghanistan joining the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a central part of the CCP’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), under which Beijing has earmarked $US$ for infrastructure projects in Pakistan. 60 billion, most of it in the form of loans.

“The Taliban will welcome joining the CPEC, China will also be very happy,” said former Pakistan ambassador to Afghanistan, Rustam Shah Mohammad.

Wangi and the Taliban leader
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (left) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pose for a photograph during their meeting on July 28, 2021 in Tianjin, China. (Li Ran/Xinhua via AP)

The Chinese regime has not commented on the BRI, but Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that Beijing stands ready to actively discuss the resumption of China-Afghanistan freight trains and facilitate Afghanistan’s dialogue with the outside world, especially its access to humanitarian supplies.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office and Taliban did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Taliban, CCP Talk: Sources

Taliban leaders have said in recent weeks that they want good relations with the Chinese regime.

A senior Taliban source said talks were held in Doha with China about potential investment opportunities. The Chinese regime is particularly interested in mining, but any activity in this area will be open to tender, the source said.

“The Taliban welcomes foreign investment that will benefit the country,” he said.

Two sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan familiar with the matter said China had been encouraging Afghanistan to join the CPEC for years, but had received a non-committal response from the previous US-backed government.

The Taliban, which is in need of economic stimulus and international recognition, seems more eager.

“The best approach and immediately available alternative is CPEC for the economic development of Afghanistan, which includes Pakistan and China,” said Mushahid Hussain Syed, a Pakistani senator and former chairman of the China-Pakistan Institute.

“The new administration in Kabul will also be receptive to this and they are looking forward to it.”

For the Chinese regime, however, Afghanistan already has mining interests struggling to get off the ground, given the precarious security situation in the country, any further investment will come with associated risks.

Epoch Times employees contributed to this report

Reuters

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

Analysis: As West considers aid to Afghanistan, China and Pakistan quick to provide relief
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