‘Pakistan in control, China to cement grip in Afghanistan’s new Great Game’

The Russian and British empires battled over Afghanistan within the 19th century, and the United States and the Soviet Union within the 20th. As the Taliban take over within the strategic, landlocked nation, the brand new Great Game has Pakistan in management, with its ally China trying to cement its grip on the area.

The West claims that Pakistan has ties with the Taliban because it battled the US-backed authorities in Kabul – fees denied by Islamabad. When the rebel group captured Kabul final week, Prime Minister Imran Khan mentioned Afghans had damaged the “shackles of slavery”.

As the Taliban maintain discussions to resolve on its authorities mannequin, media reviews have mentioned some Pakistani officers are concerned.

A Foreign Office spokesperson in Islamabad mentioned Pakistan wished an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan that ensured peace and stability within the area however added the “key role remains with the Afghans”.

Read extra: US and its allies specifically India ‘foremost losers’ in Afghanistan: specialists

China, with no earlier involvement in Afghanistan however a powerful alliance with Pakistan, has held out an olive department to the Taliban, enticed by the nation’s mineral wealth, together with its giant reserves of lithium, a key element for electrical autos. China can be wanting on the prospect of additional safety for its slender land route by means of the Karakoram mountains into Pakistan.

And then there may be India, Pakistan’s outdated enemy, which has been locked in a navy standoff with China alongside their disputed border for greater than a 12 months. India was a key supporter of the ousted regime in Kabul and as each Pakistan and China turn into key gamers in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, New Delhi’s nervousness is growing.

China nevertheless says its foremost goal in reaching out to the Taliban is to guard its western Xinjiang area from anti-Beijing East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) militants, who might search sanctuary inside Afghanistan.

Also learn: Taliban have assured will not enable use of Afghan soil by TTP: Rashid

“While Pakistan might be thinking of leveraging on Afghanistan against India, this is not necessarily the case for China,” mentioned Zhang Li, a professor of South Asian research at Sichuan University.

“China’s primary concern now is for the Taliban to … build an inclusive and moderate regime so that terrorism would not spill over to Xinjiang and the region. Any other calculus further to that remains to be seen.”

The US authorities says ETIM not exists as a proper organisation.

China has dangled the prospect of offering the 2 issues the Taliban wants to control Afghanistan: diplomatic recognition and much-needed infrastructure and financial help, mentioned Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic research on the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi.

“China is certain to exploit the new opening to make strategic inroads into mineral-rich Afghanistan and deepen its penetration of Pakistan, Iran, and Central Asia,” he mentioned.

Bitter recollections

There was a lot cheering in Pakistan over India’s discomfiture on the flip of occasions, mentioned Raza Ahmad Rumi, a political commentator, who teaches at Ithaca College in New York. The two international locations have fought three wars since they turned impartial nations when the subcontinent was divided in 1947.

“The jubilation in Pakistan witnessed on social media and TV screens was largely linked to the undoing of Indian influence as conventional policy circles viewed (Afghan President Ashraf) Ghani’s close links with India as a threat,” Rumi mentioned.

Read extra: Firefight at Kabul Airport involving Afghan, US, German forces -Bundeswehr

India has bitter recollections of the earlier Taliban stint in energy from 1996 to 2001.

An Indian Airlines aircraft was hijacked in 1999 and in the end landed in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. “Our position today is one of adjusting to reality. We have to play the long game in Afghanistan. We don’t have a contiguous border but we have stakes there,” mentioned Jayant Prasad, a former Indian ambassador to Kabul.

Over the previous 12 months because the Taliban emerged as a dominant pressure and US-brokered negotiations started in Doha, Indian diplomats had opened a line with the group, diplomatic sources in New Delhi mentioned.

“We are talking to all stakeholders,” one in all them mentioned however didn’t need to get to the specifics of the discussions. There has been criticism at home that India put all its eggs within the basket of the Ghani authorities when the United States itself had begun talks with the Taliban, and that New Delhi left it too late.

‘Taliban takeover a setback for India’

Still, India as a significant financial participant will be engaging to the Taliban, trying to keep away from an over-dependence on China, the supply mentioned.

India has growth initiatives in each one in all Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, small and massive, together with the parliament constructing in Kabul that it constructed, which was over-run by gun-toting Taliban males after sweeping into town final week.

Myra MacDonald, writer of three books on South Asia and a former Reuters journalist, mentioned whereas the Taliban takeover was a setback for India, it was not sport over for New Delhi.

“This is not a re-run of the past. Everyone is going to be much more careful this time about letting terrorism in Afghanistan explode as in the pre-9/11 days.”

A senior member of the Taliban has advised Reuters that impoverished Afghanistan wants assist from international locations within the area, together with Iran, in addition to the United States and Russia.

“We expect them to help us, to support our people, especially the health sector and especially the business sector and mining sector,” mentioned Waheedullah Hashimi, who has entry to the group’s decision-making.

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