Relevance : GS Paper II (International Relations)
Theme of the article
India and China can work together, bilaterally and in multilateral groupings, to build a secure Afghanistan.
Why has this issue cropped up?
The likelihood of an American pull-out from Afghanistan raises the spectre of instability in Afghanistan, South and Central Asia. If this happens, security could hinge on efforts made by regional powers to stabilise Afghanistan.
Regional powers and Afghanistan
- Sharing part of a border with Afghanistan, China has a great interest in its stability.
- China would be adversely affected by war and chaos, which could spill over into north-western China, Pakistan, and Central Asia. As all these areas are vital in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), peace in Afghanistan is critical.
- Over the last decade, China has gained considerable economic and diplomatic influence in Afghanistan.
- It has joined the U.S. and Russia in several peace talks with the Taliban and is part of the four-nation Quadrilateral Coordination Group (with Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S.).
- It is giving military aid to Afghanistan, with the express intent of fighting terrorism and increasing security cooperation.
- It has invested in projects such as mining, roads and railways, and health.
- In 2012, it brought Afghanistan into the regional diplomatic processes by giving it observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
- India supports China’s role in international negotiations on Afghanistan, the activation of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group and other mechanisms of dialogue and cooperation for restoration of peace and development in Afghanistan.
- India has certainly contributed much ‘soft power’ ranging from telecommunications to education, Bollywood movies and pop music.
- The building for the National Assembly was built with Indian assistance to support Afghanistan’s democracy.
- Indian reconstruction largesse, amounting to some $3 billion, has earned it goodwill and popularity.
- But India’s lengthy absence from regional diplomacy has resulted in its limited contribution to the negotiations that are necessary to stabilise Afghanistan.
India- China cooperation in Afghanistan
- The Afghan government would like to see India-China economic cooperation in Afghanistan that could boost progress and enhance human security.
- Last October, in a first, India and China started a joint training project for Afghan diplomats.
- They could expand cooperation by facilitating Afghanistan’s full membership of the SCO.
- China’s leadership role of the SCO could give it a vantage in crafting a regional solution on Afghanistan. That should not prevent India and China from working together, bilaterally and in the SCO, to build a secure Afghanistan.