Chinese and Afghan Foreign Ministers Chen Gong and Maulvi Amir Matuqi’s arrival in Islamabad showed a symbol of new political changes in South Asia. The Afghan Taliban have long been facing UN Security Council sanctions, the purchase of assets’ weapons, and travel sanctions, but the Interim Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, was given travel permission by the UN Security Council earlier this month and was allowed to travel to Pakistan. After attending the fifth phase of the trilateral talks, China and Afghan Foreign Ministers discussed bilateral issues with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, but Maulvi Amir Matuqi also met with the leadership of Pakistan’s religious and Pashtun nationalist parties in whom he get the Pakistani public opinion about the Taliban. This was the first visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister to Pakistan, but Amir Matuqi last time in November 2021 came to Islamabad a few months after the Afghan Taliban took control of Kabul. Before attending the Afghan Minister’s trilateral conference, the United Nations hosted a conference on Afghanistan in Doha to which Taliban rulers were not invited, so the UN Doha Conference in Qatar due to the non-participation of the Afghan leadership, was fruitless. Addressing the Doha conference on May 2, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the Taliban’s ban on girls’ education in Afghanistan, saying that we did not remain silent on attacks on women’s rights.
Addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Goa, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urged the international community to take meaningful engagement with the interim Afghan government. We must avoid repeating past mistakes. The third participant of the talks, China, has significant economic and strategic interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while Beijing is a key economic and defense partner of Pakistan. It made a big investment in Middle East oil by investing $ 60 billion of huge investment in the Pak-China Economic Transit Project. China is now leading to the disposal of Russia’s and the Central Asian states’ energy reserves and the economic markets of Eastern Europe. Chinese companies are currently investing in Afghanistan. A Chinese firm signed a multi-million dollar investment agreement with Afghan authorities in January this year, which was considered the first major foreign investment in the country since the Taliban took over in August 2021. In March 2022, Wang Yi had a surprise visit to Kabul and called on Taliban officials to resolve various issues, including political relations, economic and transit cooperation.
Both Chinese and Pakistani officials have said in the past that they will welcome the Taliban-led Afghanistan to the China -Pakistan Economic Transit Plan for billions of dollars. Afghanistan is sitting on an important geographical trade and transit route between South and Central Asia, as well as billions of dollars worth of unused mineral resources. In August 2021, the Taliban took over the country’s management, filling the political gap created after a long war of US-led foreign forces spanned over 20 years. According to some political analysts, relations with the Acting Foreign Minister’s visit to Pakistan will improve relations with neighbors and other countries in the region. Especially in the current situation when Afghanistan suffers from the worst economic and political isolation
These meetings may prove to be a positive step towards developing political understanding. The fact is that no one has recognized the Taliban government even after eighteen months. It seems that Taliban authorities have hindered human rights violations. The implications that launched a campaign to cut off the global financial system are still in pursuit of the Taliban. Despite all this, the Taliban have been trying to prove their legal status by taking control of Afghan embassies abroad, most of which are still run by diplomats appointed by the previous government. The Taliban claim a diplomatic presence in 14 countries except for Tajikistan, took control of embassies in Russia, China, Turkey and Indonesia. Although the Taliban took over the Afghan embassy in China in April 2022, they could not take control of any Afghan mission in the West. Western countries have indicated the Taliban to give comprehensive women’s rights and a condition of breaking ties with terrorist organizations, but the Taliban refuses to share force and lay women’s freedoms.
Last month, the Taliban controlled the Afghan embassy in Turkmenistan and the consulate in the United Arab Emirates and took over the Afghan embassy system in Tehran in February. It seems that the Taliban’s next target will be Tajikistan, which is the only neighboring country that hosted the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, in addition to publicly rejecting the Taliban’s return to power. Last month, Taliban officials claimed that their personnel visited the Afghan consulate in the eastern city of Khorog, but Tajik officials did not comment. Afghan Ambassador to Dushanbe Mohammad Zahir Azabar said they suspect the Taliban did not publish photos of visits and meetings but was engaged in secret talks with the Tajik government. Despite the resistance for a year and a half, the NRF has not achieved much success. Taliban forces largely crushed armed opposition like NRF. Therefore, the Tajik government is now trying to balance the Taliban officials in Afghanistan and is busy keeping the resistance group in Tajikistan.
Writer is a MPHIL. Scholar from Ripha University.