A political vacuum has been created in South and Central Asia since the United States withdrew from Afghanistan. Many are asking the question, who will fill this void? Afghanistan’s neighbors Pakistan, Iran and China are all interested in filling this gap.
The three countries are not capable of playing the same role as the United States did in shaping the future of Afghanistan. But each of them wants to see a stable government in Afghanistan in the interests of national security in their respective territories.
On the other hand, the Taliban government is trying to build positive relations with neighboring countries with the aim of attracting international recognition and foreign investment. In this case, they want to keep Pakistan, China and Iran in hand. It is seen that these three countries also want to join hands with the Taliban government for their own needs.
Afghanistan shares a 2,060-kilometer land border with Pakistan. Pakistan has had to pay a heavy price for four decades of instability on the border. Pakistan was Washington’s launching pad in the US-led war against the Soviet Union in 1969. Pakistan had to pay a high price for giving that facility to the United States. Then, in the post-9/11 ‘war on terror’, the situation in Pakistan worsened. Many armed groups have sprung up inside Pakistan, especially along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Tehreek-e-Taliban and Baloch militants have attacked various parts of Pakistan, killing more than 63,000 people and destroying billions of dollars in assets. Islamabad has always complained that most of the attacks in Pakistan are planned and carried out by Indian intelligence agencies based on Afghan soil. At the same time, Pakistan has been accused of supporting the Taliban, especially the Haqqani network.
Now the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s seizure of power have been taken very positively by the Pakistani military. They think that since the Taliban are in power, Pakistan’s western border area will be free from any Indian aggression.
In a video message sent to the United Nations on September 24, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called on world leaders to stand by the Afghan government. But Pakistani intelligence has told a meeting of the National Security Council that the Taliban may not listen to them in the future. That is why Pakistan will not recognize the Taliban government in a hurry like in 1990. They simultaneously recognize others.
China is worried about the 92-kilometer border area after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. Beijing is concerned about China’s Wakhan Corridor, which borders Afghanistan.
Beijing fears that anarchy in Afghanistan could heat up China’s Xinjiang and disrupt China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project.
On July 26, Taliban leader Mullah Gani Baradar met with a nine-member delegation in Tianjin with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. There, Taliban leaders have assured China that they will not allow anyone to sit on Afghan soil and carry out anti-China activities. The meeting opened the door for the Taliban to gain international recognition. China has already invested in various sectors in Afghanistan. China is also eyeing Afghanistan’s mining resources. Afghanistan has an estimated লাখ 3 trillion in mineral resources.
Many more countries are looking at these resources. China also fears that those countries could use local armed groups to seize the resources. That is why China wants to maintain good relations with the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan shares a 921-kilometer border with Iran. In 1990, Tehran supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. At the time, they did not recognize the Taliban government. But since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, it has been secretly helping the Taliban to harm US interests in their own security.
Now Iran is happy without US Kabul. Not that they are happy to take over the Taliban. Tehran has criticized the Taliban government for not having a Shiite representative. They are concerned about the safety of the Hazara Shia community in Afghanistan.
Outside of politics, Iran also wants to benefit financially from Afghanistan. In 2016, Iran was Afghanistan’s largest trading partner. That is the place Iran wants to hold.
Taken from Al-Jazeera, translated from English