Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Opinion / Global views

Power of three

By WANG SHIDA | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-05-29 07:24
Share - WeChat

Restart of China-Afghanistan-Pakistan cooperation mechanism a boon for regional peace and stability


The Fifth China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue, attended by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Acting Foreign Minister of the Afghan Interim Government Amir Khan Muttaqi in Islamabad on May 6, marks the official restart of the trilateral cooperation mechanism among the three countries.

In particular, it's worth noting that this year marks the 10th anniversary of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, and both Afghanistan and Pakistan have been vigorously taking part in the joint construction of the initiative. The three countries reaffirmed their commitment to further trilateral cooperation under the framework of the initiative, and to jointly extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan. Above all, the three sides agreed to enhance transit trade through Gwadar Port and give full play to the port's unique role in reviving the Afghan economy.

The restart of foreign minister-level meetings among the three countries shows how China is playing an active and positive role in solving international and regional hotspot issues. It also marks the implementation of the Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The domestic situation in Afghanistan has undergone dramatic changes since the Taliban regained power and then Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country in August 2021. Politics in Afghanistan has entered a new period and the regime change has triggered a chain reaction both inside and outside the country.

In August 2021, the United States hastily withdrew the last of its troops from Afghanistan, not because it had solved the Afghan issue but because of the US' domestic political agenda. The Afghan issue is far from being solved. On the contrary, because of historical reasons and complex international and regional political factors, a number of terrorist groups identified by the United Nations still exist in Afghanistan, such as the Islamic State Khorasan Province branch and al-Qaida. Over the past more than one year, the aforementioned terrorist groups have made attempts to fish in troubled waters — taking the political upheaval in Afghanistan as an opportunity to strengthen their foothold and grow stronger, and even spread to Afghanistan's surrounding areas.

For instance, Afghanistan's neighboring country Pakistan is seeing large-scale penetration of terrorist groups including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which used to be active in the eastern part of Afghanistan. This has resulted in Pakistan's security situation deteriorating and an increase in terrorist attacks and casualties.

The people of Afghanistan have already gone through the extremely difficult times. However, Afghanistan, at a critical stage of transition from chaos to governance, still faces multiple challenges and is in dire need of external support and assistance.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are neighbors with close cross-border exchanges and communication. Changes in one country's domestic situation affect the other. Right now, the two countries face both unprecedented opportunities and some common challenges in maintaining peace and stability and promoting development and prosperity, and some of the challenges have triggered discord in bilateral relations. As the two countries' friendly neighbor, China has proposed and promoted the foreign ministers' meeting among the three parties, in an attempt to provide a good platform for Afghanistan and Pakistan to jointly tackle those common challenges.

The relaunch of the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral cooperation mechanism will greatly contribute to lasting peace and order in Afghanistan and its neighboring areas. We have every reason to have greater expectations from such a cooperation mechanism and China's contribution as a major country.

To start with, the three parties have reached a consensus on deepening their anti-terrorism cooperation. They have agreed to coordinate and cooperate on security, fighting organized crimes and drugs smuggling, and called on the international community to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and provide necessary supplies, equipment and technical assistance in this regard to the relevant countries.

In particular, the three sides have stressed on the need to not allow any individual, group or party, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement, to harm and threaten regional security and interests, or conduct terrorist actions and activities.

This public naming of the terror organizations by the three foreign ministers demonstrates the three countries' high degree of consensus on combating terrorism.

In the meantime, the three sides underscored the need to refrain from intervening in Afghanistan's internal affairs, and to promote Afghan peace, stability and reconstruction. In doing so, they have conveyed the message that no country can meddle in the domestic affairs of another under the pretext of combating terrorism, nor can they adopt "double standards" on counterterrorism, supporting and using terrorist forces to achieve their own geopolitical goals. This is conducive to getting counterterrorism issues straightened out from the root, and opposing and preventing all sorts of "fake counterterrorism".

Second, reviving the Afghan economy and improving people's livelihoods are the foundations for Afghanistan's lasting peace and order. The use of humanitarian assistance as a political tool must be opposed.

If we sit by and watch the Afghan economy collapse and the humanitarian crisis worsen, the gains of reconstruction will be reversed. Due to multiple factors including natural and man-made disasters, Afghanistan still faces a severe humanitarian crisis, with a shortage of food, energy and medicine and a decrease in job opportunities becoming the biggest challenges to stabilizing the situation in the country. Against such a backdrop, the international community needs to reach a consensus to provide continued assistance to Afghanistan and enhance the coordination of such assistance by different nations.

Last, with regard to connectivity, trade and investment, the three sides agreed to continue cooperation to jointly promote regional economic development. They also agreed to consider further supporting the reconstruction of Afghanistan and exploring trilateral investment possibilities aimed at industrialization and job creation.

Situated at a crossroads in Asia, Afghanistan boasts great geographic significance and has great potential in developing the transshipment economy. To this end, the three sides reaffirmed their resolve to fully harness Afghanistan's potential as a hub for regional connectivity. They stressed that the importance of existing projects, including the Central Asia-South Asia power project, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Natural Gas Pipeline Project and the Trans-Afghan Railway Project, will enhance regional connectivity and ensure economic uplift and prosperity for the peoples of this region.

In the meantime, the three sides emphasized to push forward the "hard connectivity" in infrastructure and "soft connectivity "in norms and standards, further explore the facilitating measures for the movement of people and trade activities among the three countries.

The author is deputy director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.

Contact the editor at

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
China Views
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349