China and Afghanistan

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Naseebullah khan
The USA has left Afghanistan again in a quagmire, chaos, and destruction by repeating its history when it committed after the withdrawal of the USSR from Afghanistan. At a time, when Afghanistan is amid economic fragility and institutional and infrastructural collapse, China could be a benefactor for the war-torn country which could heal its wounds. Recently, as a positive gesture, China has provided 31 million dollars emergency aid of food supplies and Corona vaccines to Afghanistan at a critical juncture. The economy of Afghanistan after the US pullout has collapsed. The banks have emptied and the government has even no money to provide salaries to the employees. On the other side, the US has frozen the 9 billion dollar foreign reserves of the Afghan government, whereas the world bank and IMF have shut their programs in the country. How can China help Afghanistan in its economic recovery__is only possible through investment in infrastructural and mineral sectors? It has been estimated that Afghanistan is home to untapped minerals worth 3 trillion US dollars. The obstacle is that neither the government has enough amount for extracting the resources nor it has the infrastructure baseline. What is left is a foreign infrastructural investment, which, at present, is possible by China that is already investing in a copper mine. The Chinese investment in the mine and minerals sectors of Afghanistan can not only revolutionize the economy of Afghanistan but also help China overcoming its dearth of natural resources. The BRI initiative of which the CPEC is a flagship project can help in progress in many sectors of Afghanistan such as mines and minerals, trade, infrastructure, energy connectivity, and economic viability. Pakistan ambassador to Afghanistan Mr. Mansoor Ahmad Khan has already said that Pakistan is discussing the expansion of CPEC to Afghanistan whereas Sohail Shaheen the spokesman of the Taliban has too stated that the Taliban are willing to be the part of the CPEC. On the other side, China had also shown interest regarding Afghanistan’s inclusions in the CPEC. In September 2019, in a trilateral meeting of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China, the foreign minister of China Mr. Wang Yi had taken an interest to further increase the connectivity and extension of the CPEC to Afghanistan. A senior researcher at Chongyong institute of financial studies at Renmin University China, Mr. Zhou Rong while giving an interview to Global times said that ” If CPEC is extended to Afghanistan, China could help build or improve infrastructure between Pakistan and Afghanistan to facilitate their economic exchange.” Afghanistan’s strategic location provides a win-win situation for both China and Afghanistan provided that both countries work together mutually in trade and economic sectors. Once Afghanistan becomes a partner in CPEC, it will have access to Gwadar port through which it imported 43000 tons of fertilizers in 2020. Nevertheless, when the infrastructure building of war-torn Afghanistan takes place, Afghanistan could become an epicenter of the flow of goods and energy from CARs to Pakistan. In addition, the CPEC could further help in the establishment of industrial parks in Afghanistan which will collaborate in the economic growth of Afghanistan and generating local jobs. For China, Afghanistan would be a step towards the accomplishment of its dream. Afghanistan could be a new market for its technological pieces of equipment with special reference to Huawei and ZTE companies. Though in 2019, the foreign direct investment (FDI) of China crossed 400 million US dollars as compared to the US investment which was only 18 million dollars, and the numbers of investors of China in Afghanistan which were 300 hundreds__but still a long way to go. Investment in Afghanistan at one end will benefit the Afghans but on the other end, the Chinese aim of economic growth by investing in mines and minerals sectors will come true. But, for that, it is a must that the land of Afghanistan ought to be peaceful, and politically stable. A huge responsibility is on the shoulders of the Taliban. It is now their test that how they lead Afghanistan in the right direction of peace and political stability.