As a step in this direction, Pakistan has offered Taliban-led Afghanistan to join the CPEC at the recently held third meeting of the CPEC Joint Working Group (JWG) on International Cooperation and Coordination (JWG-ICC) , the Afghan Diaspora Network reported.
“In the context of regional connectivity, both sides exchanged their views at the JWG on the extension of CPEC to Afghanistan to promote economic development and prosperity,” China stated.
Pakistan is projecting the offer as a connectivity boost to Afghanistan aimed at connecting Kabul with South Asia and the Central Asia region to improve Afghan exports at a time when the country is struggling hard to get currency.
But Islamabad’s main underlying agenda is to assert its economic dominance over Kabul in collusion with China and exploit the country’s valuable natural resources, the Afghan Diaspora Network reported.
Both countries see an opportune time to use it to their strategic advantage as Afghanistan has been mired in economic crisis and international assistance has been cut off since the Taliban took over Kabul a year ago due to lack of government recognition.
Under the guise of helping the poor nation manage its economy, both Islamabad and Beijing want to capture a strategic space in the country and affect the economic sovereignty of the Afghan people. Islamabad also wants to use the CPEC expansion in Afghanistan as a way to revive its own economy by using its neighbor’s resources.
Afghanistan’s involvement as a third party in the CPEC could also absolve Pakistan and China of criticism of exerting political influence over a country in crisis without doing enough to restore a legitimate government and ensure the uninterrupted supply of essential goods to the people, the Afghan Diaspora Network reported. .
China has also been criticized for its intention to take advantage of poor countries’ lack of resources for infrastructure development. If China uses the same template, it would provide high-cost loans to access Afghanistan’s natural resources and assets.
However, both want to maintain control of this strategically important country under the guise of economic cooperation.
In the last few days, there have been several instances where the inclusion of third parties in the CPEC has been mentioned, and it has attracted negative comments from the public.
The whole idea behind Pakistan’s hidden agenda for Afghan participation in CPEC is to harness energy and other resources needed for its own trade and industries.
However, this would also serve the Chinese purpose of accessing Afghanistan’s enormous wealth of untapped natural resources, especially rare earth elements, the Afghan Diaspora Network reported.
Afghanistan is rich in resources such as copper, gold, uranium, bauxite, coal, iron ore, rare earths, lithium, chromium, lead, zinc, etc. Returning to power in Afghanistan after a 20-year absence, the Taliban have regained control of natural resources that could be worth between $1 trillion and $3 trillion.
An internal US Department of Defense memo in 2010 described Afghanistan as “the Saudi Arabia of lithium,” meaning it could be crucial to global supplies of the metal, the Diaspora Network reported afghan
Afghanistan has 1.4 million tons of rare earth minerals, a group of 17 elements prized for their applications in consumer electronics as well as military equipment. China is strategically seeking access to these minerals in Afghanistan, taking advantage of the power vacuum created by the US withdrawal.
Moreover, the implementation of the CPEC has drawn criticism, including that it burdens Pakistan with mountains of debt, allowing China to use “debt trap diplomacy” to gain access to strategic assets.
A closer look at CPEC indicates that concerns about debt sustainability, tepid economic growth and general economic and social instability in Pakistan are proving correct, the Afghan Diaspora Network reported.
Falling into the Chinese or Pakisttrap could have long-term ramifications for Afghanistan. China has no record of saving any economy from crisis, while Pakistan has no capacity to help. The Chinese engagement had brought Pakistan to a crisis as it did in the case of Sri Lanka.
He should try to avoid seducers and find rational solutions to his economic and political problems. Joining the CPEC may further isolate it from the international community.
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