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China's official think-tank casts doubt on Taliban's unity, ability to form inclusive government

An article written by officials of government-run Shanghai Institutes for International Studies said that China and Pakistan must work together to maintain and promote regional security and stability.

Published: 03rd October 2021 08:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd October 2021 08:06 PM   |  A+A-

Taliban fighters sit on the back of a pickup truck as they stop on a hillside in Kabul. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

BEIJING: A Chinese think-tank has said that the Taliban face a series of severe challenges, including those relating to unity and ability to establish an open and inclusive government, calling for close cooperation between 'all-weather' allies China and Pakistan to persuade the Afghan militant group to implement its commitments.

As the Taliban's interim government failed to win a global recognition, an article in the state-run Global Times on Saturday said: "China and Pakistan must cooperate closely on the Afghan issue to persuade the Afghan Taliban to establish an open and inclusive government and implement a moderate domestic and foreign policy."

Written by Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of Research Centre for China-South Asia Cooperation at the government-run Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, the article said: "at present, the verbal expression of the Afghan Taliban is very different from that in the past, but we do not know what specific policies they will champion in the future."

"The Afghan Taliban are now facing a series of severe challenges. First, the unity of Afghan Taliban itself. Second, whether the Afghan Taliban can establish an open and inclusive government. Third, food shortage is likely to lead to humanitarian disasters and refugees. Fourth, they hope to win the recognition and assistance of the international community, but at the same time, they also face the hatred, blockade, sanctions and even subversion of some hostile forces in the world," it said.

The article said that China and Pakistan, as "all-weather strategic partners," must work together to maintain and promote regional security and stability.

Titled "Why is it essential for China, Pakistan to enhance coordination against terrorists, safeguard regional stability," the article also criticised the premise among the strategic analysts that the seizure of power of the Taliban is a success for China and Pakistan.

"They believe that the successful seizure of power by the Afghan Taliban is a success of China and Pakistan, but a strategic failure of the US, the West and India. The reason why they have this faulty interpretation is mainly due to their geopolitical-competition thinking and zero-sum game thinking," it said as it criticised the US move to form the Quad along with India, Japan and Australia.

China, besides hosting a Taliban delegation days before they captured the power in Kabul, has been asking the Afghan militant group to "make a clean break" from all terrorist forces and form an open and inclusive government following moderate domestic and foreign policies.

Beijing is yet to officially recognise the Taliban's interim government.

However, it has kept its embassy open in Kabul along with Pakistan and Russia even as other countries closed their missions after the Taliban took over Kabul.

On September 21-22, special envoys of China, Russia and Pakistan met top officials of the Taliban's interim government as well as former Afghan leaders Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul and discussed the formation of an inclusive government, combating terrorism and assessing the humanitarian situation.

Besides coordinating closely with Russia on Afghanistan, China and Pakistan, which are playing a lead role since Kabul fell to the Taliban, are trying to establish a new grouping of countries sharing borders with the war-torn country, comprising China, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

On September 26, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in New York that Russia, China, Pakistan and the US are working together to ensure that the Taliban rulers keep up their promises, especially to form a genuinely representative government and prevent extremism from spreading.

"China, Pakistan, Russia and Iran all hope that the Afghan Taliban can establish an open and inclusive regime so that all ethnic groups and parties in Afghanistan can have their own representatives, which is the key for the Afghan Taliban to win domestic and international support," the Global Times article further said.

"China does not want Afghanistan to fall into turmoil again due to domestic political struggle that always leads to humanitarian crises, nor does China want Afghanistan to become a shelter for Eastern Turkistan forces such as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM)," it said.

Beijing blames the ETIM -- stated to be an affiliate of al-Qaida -- of trying to separate the Uygur Muslim majority province of Xinjiang -- which borders Afghanistan -- from China.

It is pressuring the Taliban not to allow the ETIM militants to operate from Afghan soil.

"China does not want Afghanistan to become a source of regional unrest due to the excessive intervention of some external forces, affecting the security of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). While strengthening strategic and security coordination against terrorist supporters, China and Pakistan should work with countries inside and outside the region to promote the construction of an open, inclusive, democratic and equal regional governance structure and security structure," the article added.



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