Joe Biden bowed his head down on the rostrum while delivering his speech on August 31, 2021, giving a symbolic message to the world: “hey we lost the war!”
In the entire region, many are in awe of the evolving situation in Afghanistan. At the same time, it is a good opportunity for political scientists to situate a new political theory. If geopolitics represents a confluence of the tripartite construct of geography, strategy and history, geo-strategy is the politics of states in accordance with existing or emerging centres of (economic or military) power(s). Strategy is not merely a static plan of action. Rather, it is an ongoing process that evolves with the emerging situation. Strategic planning is cognisance of one’s own goals vis-à-vis the geostrategic positioning of other states.
Geo-strategy is a preemptive but calculated strike of a state to contain its adversary’s existential threat.
Through its geostrategic move-BRI-China is asserting its position in the region, wherein the regional, as well as global players, are already well-positioned. After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, China for the time being, with its amphibious power, is less troubled by existential threats in the region. The Chinese strategy and selection of certain geographical points is a conscious effort to use trade connectivity as a tool to expand China’s influence beyond the region. China is discreetly changing the geopolitical reality through economic inroads and to have a permanent strategic advantage over the Eurasian continent and its sea lines of communications. For this, China essentially requires peaceful Afghanistan, which is a missing piece in the peace puzzle.
Will America let it happen even after its departure from Afghanistan? Or will it rely upon the new strategic partner-India? Political thinkers are of the view that after a little turmoil, Afghanistan will come to rest and India, for one or another reason, will join the league of regional players in their efforts to stabilise Afghanistan. It will be utter madness if India remains adamant to keep its role as a peace spoiler in Afghanistan so that it can contain China and settle its scores with Pakistan. India should learn a lesson from its strategic partner, who had to leave Afghanistan after a 20-years-long war. American think tanks have strategised the US presence around the globe with its military might, which is in complete contrast to China’s ingress to buyers’ markets through its smart investment but expansionist strategy.
It’s not that China is a peace-lover but China’s huge investment needs a peaceful route to its markets and in return an uninterrupted supply of hydrocarbons from Central Asian Republics and the Middle East. An uninterrupted supply of hydrocarbons is a point where the interests of both China and India converge. This is only possible if Afghanistan is stable and peaceful.
As a pre-emptive measure, China has started deepening its diplomatic ties with the Taliban by hosting a delegation in July 2021 even before their control on Afghanistan. To which, western media refers as an implied recognition of the Taliban’s government. Nevertheless, China has inevitably attained a very powerful role through its strategic moves and smart investment in Afghanistan. This will provide a safe passage to Chinese goods for their destination markets. In lieu of a supporting role in Afghanistan, China will also secure its western borders from cross-border religious extremism.
China seems to be more pragmatic and political savvy in geostrategic affairs by creating a large zone of influence in South Asia, which begins initially with Pakistan. Its area of influence has transcended Afghanistan and beyond. With Iran, China has already signed an agreement to invest $400 billion over 25 years and unzipped the Indian control on Chabhar Port, hence releasing pressure from Gwadar Port. Instead of two rival ports, both will be operationalised under the patronage of China hence less confrontation.
For Pakistan, being an ally of China, it is an opportune moment that can transform Pakistan into an economic hub. Whereas being an ally on War on Terror, Pakistan has paid a heavy price. In a recent press conference, DG ISPR, Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar stated that Pakistan lost 83,000 lives during the war on terror that cost the country almost US$126 billion.
China has its own strategic goals, which align with the transition of power from the west to the east. However, Pakistan, which has played a pivotal role in the background to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with America in Doha has its own geoeconomic goals. In their bid to highlight the shift, Pakistani leaders have repeatedly stated that Pakistan is at a crossroads, where it is moving from geo-strategic to geo-economic policy.
For the fulfilment of all aspirations and ambitions of regional players including Pakistan, an early establishment of a government is needed regardless of the type, whether it is Taliban-led or an inclusive one. No country other than Pakistan is desirous of peace in Afghanistan, which is a road to its prosperity and development and fortunately, its biggest ally in the region-China is working on the same lines.
Source: Daily Times