Lawrence Sellin | Retired Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve
3:00 PM 12/10/2018
The China Daily, a Chinese government media outlet, published an article, “Pakistan key to Afghan peace process,” by an author from Pakistan, an ally of China, which not only drips with irony but unabashedly explains the Chinese-Pakistani plan for the future of Afghanistan.
It originates from the “non-governmental” Beijing think tank, the Center for China and Globalization, founded and run by former high officials of the Chinese government, one of which was chief negotiator for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization.
The article begins by blaming the United States for waging “an unnecessary and avoidable war” for 17 years, despite the fact that it was actually Pakistan who provided safe haven and supported a Taliban proxy army that “caused the deaths of countless innocent people.”
Contrary to the author’s contention, it was not the War in Afghanistan that “has endangered and destabilized the whole region” but Pakistan’s domestic policy of promoting Islamic extremism to subdue ethnic self-determination and its use of terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy that led to and nurtured that war.
The author then conveniently identifies the countries collaborating with Pakistan to hasten a U.S. exit from South Asia; China, Russia, Iran and Turkey.
U.S. withdrawal is necessary for “the true potential of the Belt and Road Initiative, especially China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”, to be realized because “Eurasia, Russia and Central Asia can only utilize Gwadar [Pakistan’s port] as a newly emerged trade route through Afghanistan, where CPEC may later extend in the future.”
That can happen when “the [United States] completely withdraws from the country, as in Vietnam … and Pakistan can facilitate this by providing a safe passage for a U.S .withdrawal.” The subtle message being that Pakistan will continue to attack Afghanistan with its Taliban proxies until the United States does so.
Here is the punchline: “China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization objectives can only be realized only when there is a stable Afghanistan,” that is, a Chinese-Pakistani controlled Afghanistan.
And here is how the Chinese-Pakistani plan will unfold.
China’s ally Pakistan will increase the attacks on Afghanistan by its proxy the Taliban to further undermine the Kabul government and raise the pressure on the United States to reach an agreement for withdrawal.
Together with Pakistan, Iran, Russia and Turkey, China will become a mediator to end the Afghan War.
A coalition government for Afghanistan will be proposed consisting of the Taliban and nominally neutral, but, in practice, pro-Pakistani/pro-Chinese Afghan politicians with a concomitant scheduled drawdown of the United States and NATO forces.
Afghanistan will be offered participation in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and will become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a basis for Afghan reconstruction and development.
Pakistan will withdraw its support of the Taliban and joint Chinese-Pakistani counterterrorism forces will eliminate the remaining Taliban from Afghanistan, for which joint exercises are already underway while solidifying a pro-Pakistani/pro-Chinese government in Kabul.
Following China’s economic subjugation of South Asia, the Chinese will establish military bases in Balochistan on the Arabian Sea to control the vital sea lanes of the northern Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, link the Chinese naval base in Djibouti with its bases in the South China Sea and isolate India.
Focused narrowly on enticing the Taliban to the negotiating table, the U.S. government appears to have no strategy to counter the China-Pakistan plan to dominate South Asia.
Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa.