The trilateral cooperation efforts are set to strengthen as the foreign ministers from all three nations pledge to pursue them, amid deepening political ties.
At a meeting of the foreign ministers of China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in Islamabad, the three nations vowed to reinforce their trilateral collaboration on security and counterterrorism.
They reached a consensus on Sunday to maintain friendly relations, enhance political mutual trust, honor each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and address differences and disputes through equal consultation.
Afghanistan seeks Chinese investment
Following the withdrawal of US forces in August 2021, Afghanistan has undergone a severe economic and humanitarian crisis as the Taliban seized control of the country and it became internationally isolated.
In an attempt to revive the country’s economy, the Taliban government has expressed its desire to attract Chinese investments in its abundant reserves of minerals, such as copper and lithium.
Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting foreign minister of Afghanistan, who is currently subjected to a travel ban by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), was given an exemption to visit Islamabad and met his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang. Later on Sunday, he is expected to have a one-on-one meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
China has invested billions of dollars in Pakistan through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a project that involves the construction of a network of roads, railways, and ports.
China’s foreign ministry has expressed its interest in investing in Afghanistan. As recent as a month ago, the ministry welcomed Afghanistan’s participation in the Belt and Road cooperation and supported its integration into the regional economic cooperation and connectivity.
According to the state-run news agency Xinhua, Qin Gang, the Chinese foreign minister, expressed China’s willingness to collaborate with Afghanistan and Pakistan to implement the Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative, and Global Civilization Initiative.
China and Pakistan look for security guarantees
In addition, the three parties vowed to reinforce their counterterrorism collaboration, with China and Pakistan affirming their support for the Taliban-led government of Afghanistan to enhance its capacity to combat “terrorist” elements.
While the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Pakistani Taliban (known as TTP) are distinct groups, they share a common ideology. Recently, at least six Pakistani soldiers were killed in a firefight with TTP militants near the Afghan border in the country’s northwestern region.
These types of attacks have become increasingly frequent since last year, after the TTP withdrew from a ceasefire brokered by the Taliban and peace negotiations with the Islamabad government fell through.
Furthermore, China has expressed the desire to witness a more stable security environment in Afghanistan before initiating any investment projects in the country.
Afghanistan emphasized that it would not permit any armed group to employ its territory for actions against China or Pakistan.
Qin Gang urged the need for coordination and cooperation mechanisms among Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, within the multilateral framework of the region.
On their part, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Amir Khan Muttaqi highlighted the importance of China-Afghanistan-Pakistan cooperation in promoting regional peace and prosperity.
Pakistani President Alvi meets Chinese FM
They expressed their willingness to enhance trilateral cooperation, develop a roadmap for cooperation in various areas such as politics, security, and the economy, and safeguard the common interests of the three countries. They also aimed to achieve mutual benefits and win-win outcomes that would benefit the people of the three neighboring nations as well as other countries in the region.
During a meeting attended by the state minister for foreign affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Chinese vice minister of foreign affairs Sun Weidong, and senior government officials from both nations, President Alvi vowed to work with the Beijing diplomat on regional peace.
They emphasized the importance of increasing bilateral exchanges, people-to-people contacts, and cooperation in culture and tourism to strengthen their ties further. President Alvi also welcomed Mr. Qin, acknowledging that Pakistan-China relations are based on mutual trust, understanding, and goodwill, and that they firmly support each other on core issues.
Pakistan and China oppose sanctions on Afghanistan
During the meeting, China and Pakistan made it apparent that they are against interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, illegal unilateral sanctions against the country, and any actions that threaten regional peace and stability.
In a statement, the Pakistan foreign ministry mentioned that China and Pakistan had emphasized the importance of the international community providing ongoing assistance and support to Afghanistan, which includes the unfreezing of Afghanistan’s overseas financial assets.
Following the Taliban’s military takeover of the country in 2021, nearly $10 billion worth of Afghan assets have been frozen by the US, as the Western-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani fell.
The statement further indicated that both countries had agreed to sustain their humanitarian and economic aid for the Afghan population and intensify development cooperation in Afghanistan. Additionally, they planned to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA