China is Treading Where Even Angels Fear To Dare: OpEd

Behind  the demeanor of the US as a superpower is also a dark underbelly, which is, not so visible in mainstream media or primetime debates, that is, a startling fact that  around 5,00,000 US military men who have at some time served in Iraq or Afghanistan have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  

This has come after the US remained locked in a battle with its 40 allies against Afghan-Taliban in the last twenty years, and in its wake lost more than 3000 of its soldiers, wounded 20,660  and incurred 975 billion USD.

Now the US is leaving Afghanistan after signing a deal with the same Afghan-Taliban it had fought for two-decades and has totally shifted its focus towards getting Israel to scuttle the Arab states into normalizing their diplomatic ties with it, as has happened on August 14, 2020, when UAE did it and then on September 12, 2020, when Bahrain followed.

No wonder US President Donald Trump has got himself nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for the same. Strange are the political bedfellows. Afghan-Taliban fought against the Soviet Union with the help of the US and today, the erstwhile Soviet Union and now Russia is totally supportive of the same Afghan-Taliban against the US.

Vietnam fought against the US with China support and today Vietnam is against China with US support, India which has always been with Russia finds itself replaced by Pakistan etc. There is a new churning going on in the world as China, Pakistan, Iran, Malaysia, Turkey and Russia are forming a new bloc while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Israel, US, India, Japan are into for another bloc.

The long-standing friendship of Pakistan and KSA has gone sour and Pakistan has started to align with Turkey, while at the same time, Pakistan has also been instrumental into making Afghan-Taliban have an understanding with China, the scourge for US and India alike, as India always want Afghan-Taliban to be kept at bay for the concerns over Kashmir.

India and China-Pakistan are also embroiled in a conflict in the Himalayas over border disputes. The US  had imagined that when it would leave Afghanistan it would be far more wrecked then twenty years back, as infighting is the hallmark of Afghans and the ‘kept’ US government of Ashraf Ghani would give a bloody-nose to Afghan-Taliban, who are now almost on the doorstep of capital Kabul.

While the US is packing its bags, a news from Financial Times on September 8, 2020, says that now China in tending to go-ahead by a promise to invest into Afghanistan which proverbially would mean treading into a zone where even angels fear to dare, that is the decision to make an infrastructure in Afghanistan in exchange for peace as ‘Beijing hopes infrastructure investment can prevent instability in Afghanistan after US troop withdrawal.

It has been leaned through the report that China has offered to build a road network for the Taliban if they can ensure peace in Afghanistan after the US military withdrawal, according to two senior tribal leaders in Pakistan with close ties to the militants’.

The same report informs that ‘diplomats from Beijing offered “sizeable investments in energy and infrastructure projects” in the country during talks that have been taking place over the past three months in Beijing, the tribal leaders from Pakistan’s south-western Balochistan province have informed.

“Chinese officials have told the Taliban to bring peace [to Afghanistan] and China will invest in roads to begin with,” said one leader.“In the future, China also wants to look at energy projects like generating electricity and then transporting oil and gas from central Asia [through Afghanistan].”

The Chinese are thinking ahead on Afghanistan and laying the ground for the future, said James Dorsey, security expert. A second tribal leader in Balochistan, who returned from Afghanistan in late August after spending a month there, said China had pledged to build motorways that would link Afghanistan’s main cities’.

“The Chinese promise is led by a road network across Afghanistan. Once such a network is built with six-lane highways, the Chinese have said local commerce and trade will flourish,” he said.  China most ambitious  project is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor under Belt and Road Initiative, which the US anyhow wants annihilate especially when when China and the US are at loggerheads.

Iran has entered into a  400 billion USD ‘military and trade’ deal recently with Beijing, and not surprisingly, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, and China are becoming closer.

CPEC ends at the Gwadar port in Balochistan, Pakistan, from where its goods would reach the entire world, and in pursuance of a possibility that India and the US would choke China ships in straits of Malacca, China has started to build a railway line from its Kashgar province into Balochistan.

China wants to connect Gwadar port with the Chabahar port in Iran, from where ironically, India was asked-to-move-out, and the recent visit of India’s defense minister Rajnath Singh to Tehran also turned out to be a damp squib.

This Gwadar port is what Israel wants to keep an eye on, as Israel-UAE have decided to make an intelligence base on an island Socotra, Yemen, which overlooks straight to Gwadar,  after both the countries decided to make diplomatic relations,  on August 14, 2020.

China is now surely paving way for the times ahead, as it is laying the ground for the future to come, particularly, in nations that are close to its borders and which make-up to the frame of Chinese interests.  Pakistan is always to be in the middle of Chinese policies as it is Pakistan which helped the US to hash up the peace deal with Afghan-Taliban, and now with the job done, the US is on its way to abandon Pakistan,  as India tends to replace it while Pakistan tends to be ‘as always’ in the saddle with its all-weather-friend China.

Now, what the future foretells is China and Afghan-Taliban to have joint-meetings, followed by delegations from Afghanistan and Turkey visiting each-other as many reports suggest a growing trust between the two.

‘Taliban, Afghan politicians prefer Turkey for Talks’ had been the headline of Anadolu Agency in February last. A meeting in Islamabad might also happen (Russia and China included) where regional-stability in the wake of new emerging scenario would be the object of discussion, as Pakistan has walked-out of its relationship over KSA, which forced the latter to seek a return of 1 billion USD from Pakistan and snap the oil-supply on deferred loan to Pakistan.

China helped Pakistan return the KSA money. KSA is now all advantage to India and has also threatened to return Pakistan its workers which India is very much ready to fill-into.  A retort was genuinely expected as an article from Brahma Challaney, one of India’s foremost defense analyst, came on his own website, that ‘The Taliban loves China’s money, but can it forget its Muslim gulags? on September 13, 2020.

The article points out that China is ‘doing it’ to safeguard its own sanctuary as it fears Afghan-Taliban would force their way into its Xinjiang province, where China s accused of atrocities against its Uyghurs Muslims, and that a communist China has nothing in-common with Afghan-Taliban.

The writer also points ‘ less known is that China also played a part in the peace effort by encouraging the Taliban to enter into a deal with the U.S. Indeed, even before Trump took office, Beijing offered to mediate and help revive the stalled talks between the U.S. and the Taliban.

In return, the U.S. last year heeded Beijing’s call to designate the Balochistan Liberation Army, the main separatist group in Pakistan’s sprawling Balochistan province, as a terrorist organization. The U.S. justified its designation on the grounds that the BLA was striking Chinese targets in Balochistan, which is home to the Chinese-run Gwadar port and a potential Chinese naval base’.

What would merit the attention that while China is accused of de-programming its Muslim Uyghurs, all the Muslim nations i.e. Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and even Malaysia cozy up with China? Much to the ado of the US, from where the voices of anguish over Uyghurs are launched, whereas, it is a fact that the US is responsible for the deaths of millions of Muslims in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, etc.

How the situation unfolds is for the future to find, but China with Afghan-Taliban on its side has assured the safety of its CPEC from BLA.

Haider Abbas is a former State Information Commissioner of India.