India, China working in tandem to prevent Taliban surge
NEW DELHI: With the US withdrawal from Afghanistan looming large, neighbouring countries are hedging against bad outcomes in that part of the world. The jitteriness is palpable, with Afghanistan’s neighbours all tying up with each other in different combinations as they scramble to contain what many fear a Taliban surge supported by Pakistan and extremism/terrorism spilling over its borders.
China is teaming up with Russia and Pakistan on a trilateral on Afghanistan, and the first meeting is scheduled in a few weeks. This comes weeks after India, Russia and China sat down in Moscow to craft another trilateral dialogue whereby all the three countries would exchange information and coordinate positions on Afghanistan’s future. The new trialateral allows Pakistan and China reaffirm their traditional ties, including showing India that their commitment to each other remains unalloyed.
The Moscow meeting was the beginning of a bilateral track between China and India, a surprising and significant development, given that India and China are generally believed to be on opposing sides of Afghanistan’s \”Pakistan divide\”. A bilateral talks between India and China on Afghanistan raised eyebrows within the Indian system since the request came from the Chinese side.
But it showed for the first time, that China too was hedging its bets regarding its \”lips-and-teeth\” relationship with Pakistan. Pakistan’s ties with the Taliban show no signs of abating, despite Islamabad’s own travails with them. None of the peace talks with the Taliban are going anywhere because Pakistan’s ISI retains a stranglehold on them. And, Pakistan seems to be in a minority that believes the Taliban should be part of the power structure in Kabul.
China’s worries are centred on their concerns in the Xinjiang province and the threat of jihadi spillover from Afghanistan.
But also China, like India, wants to protect its considerable investments in Afghanistan. In May China’s CNPC will be extracting oil from its wells in northern Afghanistan. This could be the beginning of a resource boom for Afghanistan.
India has theoretically invested in Afghanistan’s Hajigak mines, but security concerns persist. An India-China bilateral dialogue could be the precursor of a joint approach to securing their investments in Afghanistan.
-Times of India-