From politicians to cricketers to Islamists, Pakistan is celebrating the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. But Islamabad’s all-weather ally Beijing is flexing its muscles for access to Kabul to extend its multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects into the war-torn country.
Islamabad [Pakistan], September 7 : Kunwar Khuldune Shahid, writing in Haaretz said that Pakistan might have hoped that the Taliban takeover, and the bidding war for the influence it aspires to foment, would give it some breathing space to negotiate better terms on the China front. But for all Pakistan’s noisy attempt to claim ownership over access to the Taliban and Afghanistan, it can’t compete with Beijing’s economic attractions, on which the survival of the new Kabul regime depends. China is seeing an opportunity to extend its multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects into the country.
China on Friday said that Taliban leaders support BRI and believe the projects are good for development and prosperity in the war-torn nation.
Taliban, meanwhile, described China as their most important partner and said that Beijing is ready to invest and rebuild the country.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has been trumpeting the victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan as its own victory. Taliban’s takeover has also been met with jubilation by Pakistanis across ideological and political divides, said Shahid.
Some Islamists are exalting the return of Islamic rule. ‘Moderates’ use half-baked sarcasm (“Pakistani women should wear hijab to make us as powerful as the Taliban!”) to test the waters on where their mass audience stands on the Afghan Islamists. Cricketers, senior female judges and even some women’s schools and organizations vocally back the Taliban.
Their victory is our victory, say the educated women, journalists and cultural figures who would be forced into silence across the border, reported Haaretz.
Moreover, Pakistan’s narrative – that the West needs it to access and influence the Taliban – comes with spikes for extra persuasive power. Islamabad is concurrently blackmailing Western powers into accepting Pakistan’s primacy in Afghanistan, or at least that of its omnipotent army, by alluding to its status as a potentially turbulent nuclear-armed state.
Pakistan is eagerly publicizing the attention it’s won since the Taliban takeover, and not only to attract US President Joe Biden’s attention. It is simultaneously intended as a message for Gulf rulers, whose plans for the Middle East, and especially formalization of ties with Israel, might be derailed by events in Kabul not least if Pakistan takes over the anti-semitic conspiracy hysteria mainstreamed in the past by the Arab states now queuing up to recognize the Jewish state, reported Haaretz.
Islamabad’s advertising of its own significance might even be a soft whisper towards China, which has increasingly asserted economic control over Pakistan but was recently given a painful reminder of the jihadist threat from within Pakistan looming over the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the spine of Beijing’s much-touted Belt and Road Initiative.
While the US withdrawal left China to deal with a jihadist regime, armed with an arsenal worth millions, Pakistan will struggle to bleed Beijing the way it did Washington, said Shahid.