Taliban: CPEC will connect Afghanistan to the region and EU

The Taliban’s deputy spokesman for MoFA, Hafiz Zia Ahmad Takal, said there is a need for the implementation of major economic projects in Afghanistan…reports Asian Lite News

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) under the caretaker Taliban regime has said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will connect Afghanistan to the region and European countries, Afghanistan-based Tolo News reported.

The Taliban’s deputy spokesman for MoFA, Hafiz Zia Ahmad Takal, said there is a need for the implementation of major economic projects in Afghanistan. “The Islamic Emirate will be able to connect with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Islamic Emirate will be able to attract investment via this project to Afghanistan and here. There will be good progress in the iron sector, the energy-producing sector, and other industries,” he said, according to Tolo News.

This comes as the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) believes that the inclusion of Afghanistan in CPEC will boost the economy and trade rates in Afghanistan.

“The project is an economic and regional project and this will help us stop being dependent on others. It will begin, we admire the statement released in this regard,” said Khanjan Alokozai, a member of the ACCI, as quoted by Tolo News.

Some traders, however, believe that CPEC will cause an increase in exports from Afghanistan.

“The corridors which have recently been established between China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan open new doors, in fact, it can help Afghanistan economically,” said Qutbuddin Yaqoobi, an economist.

China has reportedly invested more than USD 40 billion in the CPEC project and is seeking to extend its commerce via CPEC with regional and other countries.

China’s security concerns

Once acclaimed as a historical venture involving the international development of infrastructure, the CPEC has been losing sheen for the past few years, European Times reported.

Pakistan was among the first countries to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of which the CPEC was called the ‘flagship’. However, despite being claimed to be a ‘game-changer’ for the Pak economy, the umbrella of projects has struggled to keep up with its timeline. Hailing the USD 62 billion project as the testimony of their ‘iron relationship’, China-Pakistan had portrayed it as the harbinger of future growth in the region, European Times reported.

Nevertheless, there have been substantially differing accounts of the progress achieved by the two countries under the first phase of CPEC with many crucial projects having hit the wall.

Since the announcement of CPEC phase-II in 2022, the conditions around it seem to have changed for the worse.

Most of the problems causing delays in the completion of CPEC projects have a political background to them. On a broader level, the change of guard from Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Ied by Imran Khan resulted in stalling of various parts of the project for years, European Times reported.

Confusion Pak Army’s role and mandate of the now disbanded CPEC authority also led to problems in coordination. However, the major cause of concern for China and its companies working on CPEC is the volatile security environment faced by Chinese workers and managers across Pakistan.

Unfortunately, what both sides refuse to acknowledge is that the core of the security issue is a lopsided conception of the project which preferred the powerful and relatively prosperous province of Punjab over others. (ANI)

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