China has planned the ‘One Belt, One Road’ several months ago. In the first phase the road will connect South Asia with Central Asia, and later with Europe. This is not a new project. It is a new Silk Route. It will bring development and prosperity to the region where most of the countries are at each other’s throat. The initiative will also help in fighting terrorism and extremism. But, given that some countries in the region realize that promoting radicalization would not benefit them.
The good news is that Beijing is pursuing its plan without delay or showing the signs of fatigue. Chinese authorities will use the road to deliver goods to Afghanistan. The first train carrying freight containers to Afghanistan has left China’s Nantong city. The train will pass through the Alataw Pass in Xinjiang to enter Kazakhstan and then Uzbekistan. From Uzbekistan the train will arrive at Hairatan dry port in Mazar-i-Sharif, provincial capital of Balkh province.
Arrival of the train will mark beginning of a new history. The new railway route is part of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. There are some serious challenges that should be addressed jointly. Terrorism and extremis are the most serious challenges, posing threat not only to the regional stability but also to this mega connectivity project. This initiative of China will not succeed in presence of different terrorist groups in the region. Some countries in the region are seeing these terror organizations as goose that lay golden eggs.
The only country that has been seen as cause of the problem is Pakistan. Pakistan has suffered a lot from proxy wars and direct confrontations. A country where over 50 percent population lives below the poverty line, spending over 60 percent of the budget on defense is beyond comprehension.
After the attack on American University of Afghanistan, the United States is pushing Pakistan to deny safe havens to terrorists. The US Department of State asked Pakistan to stop its “distinction of good and bat terrorists”. The attack was planned on the soil of Pakistan. Afghan government has given three cell phone numbers—used by the terrorists during the attack—to the Pakistani authorities to arrest the masterminds. However, Islamabad said that technical traces could not be found. Such a blunt response when Afghans are grieving the death of loved ones is deteriorating relations between the two countries further.
Therefore, Pakistan should listen to what the regional countries suggest for its development. All of its neighbors are against terrorism and extremism. As a first step, Islamabad shall take action against all those groups that are posing threat to regional stability. There shall be no distinction. Arms reduction and de-escalation of tension in the region is also need of the hour to form a formidable economic and political bloc on the regional and global level. Pakistan shall take steps to promote healthy relations with its neighbors.