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Terrorist attacks against Chinese: Implications for the regional geo-politics of CPEC

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Shabnam Siddiqi,

 

The recent terrorist attack on 26  April 2022 by the Balochistan Liberation Army on Chinese teachers working under the flagship of China Pakistan Economic Corridor has made Chinese teachers leave for home. It not only affected the study flow of the student’s learning mandarin in the Chinese non-profit institute, the Confucius Institute, but it is an attack on Pak-China Friendship.

It caused a source of hysteria among Chinese nationals not to come back to Pakistan. Such Terrorist attacks become a hurdle in the way of direct international investments and smooth operation of mega projects such as CPEC. The smooth running of CPEC is hindered by dire security issues inside Pakistan and most of the time the blame is placed at the Balochistan Liberation Army.

 

The new government in Pakistan is required to adopt robust measures regarding terrorism and the protection of Chinese nationals, as the recent terrorist attack on Chinese teachers has enraged the Chinese government which has announced that immediate action should be taken by the Shehbaz Sharif government to bring the perpetrators into justice.

 

Balochistan Liberation Army is an ethnonationalist terrorist organization, who are against the Pakistani government, and they do not represent the public. This terrorist group wants to make its own sovereign state consisting of territories in Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. Primarily BLA targeted Pakistani security forces in 2003. Besides, their main target is Chinese nationals from 2013 onwards.

 

Terrorism is the pivotal point behind CPEC not gaining momentum. The East Pakistan terrorist group operates on the brinks of Afghanistan and Iran. It can be stopped easily by joining hands with the neighboring countries. If Afghanistan becomes a part of CPEC it will only benefit China and Pakistan but leads Afghanistan towards economic prosperity.

 

Afghanistan does not have any approach to the vast markets of China, Pakistan, and India which consisted of low-price commodities like fruits, dry fruits, and rugs. The trillion-dollar mineral resources in Afghanistan still remain unexploited which can take Afghanistan out of its current economic vulnerability. Not to mention that there is a serious need for infrastructural development in Afghanistan and CPEC is hosting many railway and motorway projects that will satisfy the need of Afghanistan for modern infrastructure.

 

Afghanistan possesses a strategic as well as economic role for China because of its geostrategic location and its vast mineral resources. Trillion-dollar mineral resources of Afghanistan remain untapped and due to insecurity and instability, Afghanistan cannot turn these natural resources into social wealth to improve the quality of life of the Afghan people.

 

However, China is trying its best to bring stability and security to this region. In order to take benefit from those minerals and to avoid the threat of instability in its Xinjiang province. Xinjiang province shares a border with the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan and China is threatened that the constant instability in Afghanistan will affect the Chinese region.

Therefore, bringing peace to Afghanistan is important for China. In addition, security and corruption issues in Afghanistan have prevented many investment opportunities for China. A treaty worth over 3 billion dollars was signed by the Afghan government with China, in which China was allowed to have access to the unused huge copper mines (Mes Aynak) present in Afghanistan for thirty years in 2008 which was hindered by the instability.

 

A stable Afghanistan can have many positive impacts on the security as well as the economy of Pakistan. First, security issues can be resolved. Most of the insurgent groups in Pakistan are operating on the borderline of the Pak-Afghan region. If the Afghan government becomes a part of CPEC, so it will lead to the development of good relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In this connection, there is a likelihood that the Afghan Taliban will probably cooperate with Pak Government to take action against those groups. The inclusion of Afghanistan into the CPEC project is an overall win-win situation for all three states.

 

Spending almost half of their lives fighting and living miserable lives in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan. Now the crucial issue which is immediately faced by the Taliban is that of the Economy due to which Taliban are looking forward to opening doors for new opportunities like joining hands with powerful neighbouring Nations like China, by engaging in meetings and negotiations with Chinese officials. The same Taliban who once did not let Mes Aynak (Copper Mines) project come into force, are now inviting the Chinese to start the previously stopped projects.

 

There are three villages near the site of Mes Aynak copper mines whose citizens were promised that after the start of the mining project they will get 3000-4000 direct jobs and 35000 indirect jobs. Now, the villagers are desperately hoping that mining will start soon. Moreover, terrorist attacks such as, the recent one on Chinese teachers in Karachi is condemned by the Taliban plus they refuse to harbor and support insurgent groups in the Afghan regions such as the Balochistan Liberation Army and Tahreek -i-Taliban Pakistan whose main target are China’s Economic Aid Programs, a part of CPEC project operating in Pakistan. Previously, the Taliban have offered mediation between the Pakistani Taliban and Pak Government. At the moment Afghan Taliban are hoping to join hands with the adjacent states to take new measures on counterterrorism.

In order to enhance security in Afghanistan and bring peace to it, collective efforts were made by China by providing aid to the Afghan Government. For a few years, China had a major role in negotiations that have taken place between the Afghanistan government and the Afghan Taliban which resulted in mediation between the two parties. It is believed that the Chinese and Taliban had a long-standing understanding.

As China was the first non-Muslim country to send its envoys for a visit during the Taliban’s first rule in Kabul. As well as, China is the only country whose diplomatic mission was never closed and still running in Kabul. after the Taliban takeover of Kabul all the embassies of other states were closed while the Chinese embassy was still running. Millions of Aids have been provided by the Chinese government to Afghanistan during the recent Coronavirus pandemic.

 

Recently, China is looking forward to building the  Kabul-Peshawar motorway under the flagship of the Belt and Road Initiative which will enhance transit trade between the two nations respectively. Building another Road is planned under the Belt and Road Initiative, on the Wakhan corridor which will directly connect Xinjiang with  Afghanistan, and it will extend to Pakistan and the central Asian region which can be a cause of economic prosperity and security stability in all the participating nations. China is the only nation in the international community that has stood out for liquifying the Afghan assets. If any country in the world can help Afghanistan to be recognized is no other Then China. China is one of the most powerful countries in the world that can
help Afghanistan not only in the matter of recognition but in other state matters as well

 

*The writer is an Afghan scholar, at the Department of Political Science, University of Peshawar.

*The views expressed in this article are the writer’s very own and does not necessarily reflect the position of the organisation.

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