Russia, China And India’s Interest In Afghan Peace Process
Chaotic conditions in Afghanistan are not only headache for USA and Pakistan but it also worries some other important actors of the region too, such as Russia and China. One of the major reasons of delay in Afghan peace process is the clash of interests of all the major players. Each participant of Afghan peace process wants to solve Afghan security problem in a way that benefit him more in future. Russia, China and India, each sees Afghan peace process from their own, totally different, perspective. One of the major reasons of this difference is their contrasting interests in the peace process of Afghanistan.
Russia’s Interest in Afghan Peace Talks: Russia has been blamed many times by US officials for arming Taliban, which if true then question arises that why she is interested in peace process? Some analysts have highlighted three reasons for her interest in Afghan peace process. First, Russia is more worried about Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), a South Asian branch of the Islamic State (ISIS) militants. One of the main reasons of Russia anxiety about ISKP is that the group aims at creating a major province of their so called Islamic State with the name of Khorasan that will comprised of the region of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian States. This is a matter of serious concern for Russia because trouble in Central Asian States would mean trouble in Russia. As per Russia, in Afghanistan Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) have about 10,000 active fighters whereas US considering ISKP fighters less dangerous than Taliban, denying this figure and has given the number of fighters as 2000. Russia and many political analysts believe that US is ignoring ISKP on purpose. She wants to let ISKP get strength in the region and fight Taliban. But it will be like killing poison with poison. In such case, situation in Afghanistan will never improve. This is why, if Russia is really arming Taliban, we can understand why she is doing so?
Second reason for Russia’s interest in Afghan Peace Process is increased drugs trafficking in the region, especially from Afghanistan to Russia. She believes that peace and stability in Afghanistan is not possible as long as militants are successfully generating revenue through drugs smuggling in the region.
Third, unlike USA, Russia wants to draw a line through peace talks between those Taliban who are willing to become part of the Afghan political system and those who want to prolong the war at any cost. In such case, as per Russia, fighting them would be easier.
China’s Interest in Afghan Peace Process: China sees Afghan war and peace process from totally a different perspective than Russia. China has a fast growing economy and she knew that she could sustained this pace only by keeping conditions smooth and normal both at the state and regional level. China considered unstable Afghanistan a major threat to both her economy and security. Under One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative China has invested billion dollars in Pakistan’s Gawadar port and CPEC project. Deteriorated political situation in Afghanistan has both direct and indirect effects on China’s CPEC and other similar projects in the region. Similarly China is also afraid that Uighur militants can use Afghan territory to plot attacks in neighboring Xinjiang province.
India’s Interest in Afghan Peace Process: The fact that unstable Afghanistan possesses no major threat to India’s security and interest in the region itself lessen her link in every aspect with Afghan peace process but still due to her strong relations with USA, she too is considered as a major player of the peace process. For India, unstable Afghanistan is an asset rather than a problem. Whereas Russia, China and Pakistan are taking keen interest in Afghan peace process for security reasons, India sees unstable Afghanistan as an opportunity for targeting both China and Pakistan simultaneously from a different front through proxies in the region. An excellent example of India’s such illicit objectives is the arrest of Indian spy, Kulbhushan Jadhav from Balochistan, Pakistan. Kulbhshan Yadav in his interview has admitted that India’s Research Analysis Wing (RAW) is using Afghan land for plotting terrorist attacks both in China and Pakistan.
Similarly becoming a major player of the region is India’s greatest objective which she cannot materialize as long as China exists in the region. India therefore considered her role in Afghanistan as an opportunity to increase her influence over the states in the region.
Due to the collision of interests of all the major players of Afghan peace process, securing stability and peace in Afghanistan seems impossible in the near future. Stability in Afghanistan is only possible if all states, including Afghanistan, keep their personal objectives at arm’s length form peace process.