Afghanistan in CPEC


Pakistan and China have formally called on Afghanistan to join CPEC. This is a pragmatic move that will benefit the entire region. Not least because it represents the best chance to date of getting Kabul and the Taliban to talk peace with each other. After all, as both sides know: the US is not in the business of nation-building.
The Afghans have signalled support for their country’s inclusion in the Corridor. Indeed, there has been welcome talk of drawing lines between economics and politics for the sake of regional connectivity. That being said, both Kabul and Islamabad should have a clear understanding that two-way cross-border attacks cannot continue. The same goes for alleged Indian funding of groups on the other side of the Durand Line that target the state on this side. And while New Delhi may fear being encircled by economic powerhouse and regional rival Beijing — it should recognise that a prosperous and stable South Asia is in everyone’s interests. Though the Indian side will naturally raise repeated concerns of how CPEC runs through what it views as contested territory. In fact, the question of unresolved border issues between Afghanistan and Pakistan will have to be addressed accordingly. But for now, these will seemingly be put on the backburner.
The Americans should, in theory, also welcome the move. After all, Trump Town not only insists that it wants to exit the Afghan quagmire — but that it falls to Pakistan to come up with a strategy towards this end. But any departure from Kabul does not envisage making way for Beijing. Indeed, Washington’s response to these developments will likely reveal much about its long-term objectives for this region. After all, it has gone out of its way to paint China as a foe; a threat to the international economic order that the Americans continue to consider their rightful domain. Whereas, in reality, Beijing is simply a competitor. And as the whole world knows there is nothing that global capitalism champions more than the idea of a level playing field; however illusionary that may be.
This is something that the EU has also failed to acknowledge. The bloc last week conducted a seminar in which its parliamentarians participated alongside scholars to bash CPEC. That this did not extend to the broader BRI framework is telling. For it suggest that the Union is backing India in this matter. The rather cheeky was title of the talk was: East India Company Mark II? For it suggests that with Britain leaving the EU fold — it is now fair game to take a pot shot at that country’s colonial legacy.