Analysis-The West is pondering to provide swift relief to assist Afghanistan, China and Pakistan

File Photo: Workers unload a pomegranate box from Afghanistan on September 7, 2021 from a truck at the “Gate of Friendship” intersection in the border town of Pakistan and Afghanistan in Chaman, Pakistan. REUTERS / Saeed Ali Achakzai / File Photo

September 12, 2021

Charlotte Greenfield

Islamabad (Reuters) -Neighboring China and Pakistan are already discussing aid and future aid as international donors meet in Geneva on Monday to discuss the humanitarian bailout of Afghanistan under Taliban control.

According to experts, the economy of a war-torn country is at stake and a humanitarian crisis is imminent.

Still, the United States and other Western nations are reluctant to fund the Taliban until the Islamic extremist movement provides a guarantee that it supports human rights, especially women’s rights.

Approximately $ 10 billion of foreign assets held abroad have also been frozen.

“The understandable purpose is to reject these funds to the de facto Taliban administration,” UN Secretary-General Deborah Lyons told the UN Security Council this week.

“But the unavoidable consequences could put millions more people in poverty and hunger, create a large wave of refugees from Afghanistan, and in fact retreat Afghanistan for generations. It will be a serious recession. “

Another possible impact could be to bring Afghanistan closer to its neighbors and close its allies Pakistan and China, which have already sent large quantities of supplies to Afghanistan. They also signaled that they were open to enhanced involvement.

China announced last week that it would send $ 31 million worth of food and health supplies to Afghanistan in its first foreign aid pledge since the Taliban came to power last month.

Pakistan sent supplies such as cooking oil and medicines to Kabul authorities last week, but the country’s foreign minister urged the international community to provide unconditional assistance and unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets.

Minerals and military

Pakistan has a close relationship with the Taliban and has been accused of supporting the group after fighting a US-backed government in Kabul for 20 years. Islamabad denied the charges.

China, which has a strong alliance with Pakistan, has also been involved with the Taliban. Some analysts said they were fascinated by the country’s mineral resources, including large reserves of lithium, a key component of electric vehicles.

China has also expressed concern about the potential spillover from Afghanistan across national borders and wants the Taliban administration to help contain it.

Beyond humanitarian aid, some experts and officials in the region have stated that China’s huge Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can provide Afghanistan with long-term economic viability.

One possibility is for Afghanistan to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the heart of the BRI. Under this corridor, Beijing promised more than $ 60 billion in Pakistan’s infrastructure projects, much of it in the form of loans.

“The Taliban will welcome participation in the CPEC, and China will also be very pleased,” said Rustam Shah Mohmand, former Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan.

China has not commented on the BRI, but Foreign Minister Wang Yi is prepared for Beijing to actively discuss the resumption of freight trains between China and Afghanistan and promote interaction between Afghanistan and the outside world, especially access to humanitarian supplies. Said there is.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry and Taliban spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Taliban, Chinese Story-Source

Taliban leaders in recent weeks have said they want a good relationship with China.

A senior Taliban source said he had discussed potential investment opportunities with China in Doha. China is particularly interested in the mining industry, but any activity in this sector will be open to bidding, sources said.

“The Taliban welcome foreign investment that benefits the country,” he said.

Two sources familiar with the matter, Afghanistan and Pakistan, have actively encouraged Afghanistan to join the CPEC for years, but faced a reaction of non-commitment from the former U.S.-supporting government. He said he did.

The Taliban, which needs economic stimulus and international recognition, seem more enthusiastic.

Mushahid Hussein Sayed, a Pakistani senator and former chairman of the Pakistan Institute for China, said:

“The new Kabul administration has accepted this and they are enthusiastic about it.”

But for China, which already has mining rights in Afghanistan and is struggling to get going, further investment will be risky given the uncertainties in the country’s security situation.

“Afghanistan’s safety and stability are absolutely important to China,” said think tank China and President Wang Huiyao of the Globalization Center.

“But it also links to Central Asia and Belt and Road connectivity, which is all about regional stability and prosperity … China has an interest there.”

(Report by Charlotte Greenfield, additional report by Alasdair Pal and Gabriel Crossley, edited by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Analysis-The West is pondering to provide swift relief to assist Afghanistan, China and Pakistan

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