The Taliban also signed up to China-Pak’s ‘Belt and Road’ project

Islamabad: Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021, international aid has been frozen. The Taliban also has no right to touch central bank reserves abroad. Afghanistan’s financial situation is getting worse day by day. In this situation, the Taliban decided to join hands with China and Pakistan. The China-Pakistan ‘Belt and Road’ project will now build roads and infrastructure in Afghanistan as well.

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Afghanistan has signed this agreement in the hope of China’s large investment and infrastructure development, but diplomatic analysts fear that the Taliban has actually stepped into the trap of China’s debt! There is room for India’s fear around this agreement. Because, after Nepal, Pakistan, if China’s presence and dominance is strengthened in Afghanistan, China will almost surround India in terms of military, military infrastructure and strategic aspects. In the context of the Indo-China border issue, the growing influence of China is considered to be quite dangerous for India.

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Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilal Bhutto Zardari held a meeting in Islamabad on Saturday. It was decided there that the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” (CPEC) worth about six billion dollars will be extended to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to help in the reconstruction process there. Taliban spokesman Hafiz Zia Ahmed said that their representative Amir Khan Muttaki also went to Islamabad and reached an agreement with the Chinese and Pakistani foreign ministers.

Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the ‘Belt and Road’ project in 2013. The aim was to connect the Eurasian countries commercially by re-opening the old Silk Road and maritime trade routes. China wanted to include Afghanistan at the beginning of the project, but it did not work out at that time.

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However, India considered that this huge amount of ‘Belt and Road’ by bringing more than 60 countries under a project is actually an attempt to establish China’s multiple belt, and therefore did not want to join this project. But the way China is advancing ‘One Belt, One Road’ through Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, India’s fears are increasing. China is already showing military expansion on Ladakh, Arunachal border. This time it may become easier for China to pressurize India by holding the hands of Pakistan-Afghanistan, and that is a concern for New Delhi.

There is, however, a reason for Afghanistan’s approach to China. Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021, foreign aid has stopped. However, 60 percent of Afghanistan’s expenses came from these foreign grants. Afghanistan’s central bank reserves of $9 billion stashed abroad have been frozen for fear of being used for terrorist activities by the Taliban.

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Washington decided to release half of this reserve due to the economic crisis in Afghanistan, but the US canceled the decision to release the reserve because the Taliban imposed restrictions on women’s education and work. A handful of countries like China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan have assured financial support to the Taliban, but none of the countries have recognized the Taliban government.

In this situation, China’s investment of one hundred million dollars has given hope to the Taliban. Last January, the Taliban signed an agreement with China’s National Petroleum Corporation to extract oil from Amu Darya in Afghanistan. This Chinese investment shows the direction of the Taliban to turn around financially.

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But countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal which China has lent or invested in, those countries could not get out of the loopholes of huge loans or investment conditions. There is also that fear in the case of Afghanistan. However, China also has room for concern. During the work of CPEC in Pakistan, Chinese workers-officials have been attacked several times by militants. The possibility of an attack by the anti-Taliban IS militant group in Afghanistan is also in full swing. In that case, how much China can invest and trade peacefully in Afghanistan, the question remains.

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