China has offered to build a road network in Afghanistan if the Taliban can ensure peace after the withdrawal of US troops. The remarks were made by two senior Pakistani tribal leaders close to the Taliban.
Tribal leaders in Pakistan’s Balochistan province told the newspaper that talks had been under way in Beijing for the past three months. There, Chinese diplomats offered to invest heavily in Afghanistan’s energy and infrastructure sectors.
One leader said Chinese officials had called on the Taliban to bring peace to Afghanistan and said China would start investing by building roads there.
He said China would in the future invest in energy projects such as power generation and later in transporting oil and gas from Central Asia through Afghanistan.
The second tribal leader, who returned to Balochistan last August after spending several months in Afghanistan, said China had promised to build roads that would connect Afghanistan’s main cities to motor vehicles.
He said the Chinese have promised to build a road network across Afghanistan. The Chinese say Afghanistan’s economy will grow once the six-lane highways are built.
A senior Pakistani government official has confirmed that Chinese officials have been holding talks with Taliban representatives since the Trump administration began withdrawing troops. The United States signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February.
The withdrawal is expected to end in 14 months.
James Dorsey, a Singapore-based security expert, said the Chinese were thinking long and hard about Afghanistan and were laying the groundwork for the future.
He said the Chinese were interested in the country bordering them and that Afghanistan was in line with China’s overall interests.
Peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban have been delayed due to differences over prisoner exchanges.
After a strategic dialogue between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan last July, the countries’ foreign ministry officials said there could be a resurgence of potential terrorists in Afghanistan if US troops were not withdrawn responsibly.
A former Pakistani intelligence official told the newspaper from Peshawar that China’s involvement had helped the militant group move towards peace.
Pakistani security agencies have deep ties to the Afghan Taliban. They have helped the Taliban in various ways to maintain regional supremacy.
Pakistan also helps the Taliban in concluding peace agreements with the United States.
The former Pakistani intelligence official said the Chinese had repeatedly told the Taliban about the benefits of an economically revived Afghanistan. No one else has been able to explain it as strongly as the Chinese.
He said the Taliban acknowledged China’s potential not only for financial assistance, but also for development in Afghanistan.