Earlier this week, nine Taliban representatives met Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a two-day visit to China where the peace process and security issues were discussed. This was an important visit which also included Taliban’s negotiator and deputy leader Mullah Baradar Akhund. The Chinese FM recognised the fact that the Taliban will have to play an important role in the process of peaceful reconciliation and reconstruction of Afghanistan.
China has been part of the multilateral process and it is encouraging to see it play a more visible role at this crucial juncture of the peace process. Given the complicated state of intra-Afghan affairs, the Chinese officials rightly reiterated their commitment to continue their assistance to Afghanistan while not interfering in its internal affairs. Considering how the situation is unfolding on the ground, picking sides would not be a wise decision for any international or regional actor as it will only perpetuate the cycle of violence.
Chinese officials also expressed hope that the Taliban would crack down on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The insurgent group has been giving assurances to several countries about how the Afghan soil will not be used to harm any of its neighbours. The Taliban appear to be saying all the right things in their meetings with key leaders, but they will soon have to act on those words as well.
A recently released UN report revealed that a large number of TTP fighters are present on the Afghan side of the border, who still continue to collaborate with the Taliban for operational purposes. The transnational terror group, Al Qaeda is also reported to maintain a presence in at least 15 Afghan provinces. As the Taliban continue to gain international legitimacy, the group will have to back its promises with tangible results as none of the stakeholders in the peace process will allow Afghanistan to become a sanctuary for terror.