China, being a neighbor, a giant economy, and now a key player in international arena and in the region could play an effective role in Afghanistan’s security, but given that Beijing designs its own security policy regarding Kabul instead of relying on Pakistan for its bilateral ties with this war-weary country. Rana Think Tank held its monthly session before the arrival of Eid-al-Adha where political affairs analysts discussed Afghan-China bilateral relations and Pakistan.
The crux of monthly session was that the Afghan government must directly bolster up its ties with China. Dr. Muradian, a well-known political affairs analyst and a former diplomat who visited China several times, urged the government that it must increase its efforts to develop relations with China directly while bypassing Islamabad’s mediation role. Here Muradian has hit at the bull’s eye, however, China must also reduce its dependence on Pakistan when it comes to its relations with Afghanistan because this is 2015 and Afghanistan is not being ruled by the Taliban—Pakistan’s protégés. Yes, back in 90s, China, under compulsion of the situation, used to use Pakistan’s political clout over Afghanistan but after the ouster of the Taliban in 2001 and the commencement of democracy as the polity, Pakistan has lost it leverage over Kabul. For instance, in December 1988, there was escalation of separatist violence in China’s Xinjiang region and contacts were facilitated by Pakistan between China and the Taliban in 1990s. Fiver senior Chinese diplomats held talks in Kabul with the Taliban’s Deputy Chairman Mullah Mohammad Hassan, Deputy Foreign Minister A-Rahman Zayef and obtained their assurance that the Taliban wouldn’t allow Afghan territory to be used against China. Now Afghanistan and China have ambassadorial relations and they don’t need a third country, particularly the one which doesn’t hold a friendly image among Afghans, for its relations to improve with Kabul. This is imperative China must talk directly to Kabul and protect its economic and security interests. And this is also imperative China must not allow Afghanistan to slide back into chaos and repeat its history of 90s. Though, Muradian said that China lacks information regarding Afghanistan, which is why Beijing eyes Islamabad’s role when it comes to China’s relations with Kabul, but perhaps there are many other reasons as well. China has already taken a proactive role and it has been showing keen interests in investing in Afghanistan. What is important is the two countries must sit together to analyze the economic factor as a peace stabilizing factor. There is a serious need to carry out a research study to know how investment and development in Afghanistan could actually lead to stability in the country. In fact much has already been published in media regarding Kabul-Beijing ties and investment opportunities, however a thorough research is missing about China’s behavior, and what kinds of interests China has in this country. Particularly it needs more serious work how to turn the economic factor into security and stability in the country. If china wills it can help Afghanistan in many ways and in a different manner than the nations from the West as many Afghans look at them with disdain and consider them responsible for the violence in Afghanistan. Though, many western countries have poured billions of dollars into this country yet despite that Afghans hold an unfriendly view about them. Here China stands out. Though China has not funneled billions of dollars into this country in the name of aid and reconstruction, yet there are outnumbering Afghans in the government, and among academicians and intelligentsia that hold a favorable picture of China. And it is where China can make a difference. By contributing to a more secure and stable Afghanistan, China’s troubles with natural resources, the Xinjiang region, and drug trafficking could become problems of the past. When Afghanistan is looking towards the East, seeking proactive role from China, Russia and India rather than the west, then why the regional players must hesitate from supporting a stable Afghanistan.