Why China's move to support the Taliban in Afghanistan will backfire
New Delhi, Sep 10: Blinded by its support for Pakistan, China is going ahead with backing in Afghanistan a Taliban-led government which is infested with ministers who have been tagged as international terrorists by the United Nations.
In docking with Pakistan's ISI, China risks losing the PR war in the region, driving mistrust and suspicion among important regional players including Iran, Russia and some of the key Central Asian Republics.
China on Wednesday announced that it is backing the new Taliban government, dominated by the banned Haqqani network and others who have been practitioners of terrorism or ultra-extremism. Beijing supported this government handpicked by the Pakistani ISI chief Faiz Hameed who had parked himself in Kabul to assemble a new government and direct a military operation against the anti-Taliban resistance that had germinated in the Panjshir valley in the northern Afghanistan.
"China attaches importance to the Afghan Taliban's announcement of the formation of an interim government and some key roles. This has put an end to the anarchy in Afghanistan that lasted for over three weeks and is a necessary step for Afghanistan to restore domestic order and pursue post-war reconstruction. We noticed that the Afghan Taliban said that the interim government is formed to restore social and economic order as soon as possible," said the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The timing of the Chinese support could not have been worse. The Taliban's image from an organisation which deserved the benefit of doubt of mutating into a more moderate force had turned 360 degrees on Sunday. A stunned region on Sunday saw Pakista's ISI micro-managing the group, leaving no doubt that the Taliban core was nothing more but a proxy of the ISI.
While Hameed was sitting in Kabul, Pakistani drones, helicopters and special forces were working in coordination to decimate the resistance mounted by Ahmad Masood and his Tajik fighters who had raised the banner of revolt in the famed Panjshir valley. Rapid geopolitical shifts followed.
Instantaneously, neighbouring Tajikistan shed all inhibitions and assumed the role of a frontline state to target the Pakistan-backed Taliban. Afghan pilots who had deserted Kabul and landed in Dushanbe after Taliban's August 15 takeover apparently flew sorties to provide humanitarian assistance to the beleaguered Panjshiris.
Surely the Chinese are unlikely to be welcomed in Dushanbe after demonstrating that they are hand in glove with the tainted Pakistanis who are killing ethnic Tajiks in the Panjshir valley.
The betrayal of the Panjshiris by the China-friendly Pakistanis, who might have used Chinese drones to "martyr" some of Tajik stalwarts, has already gone viral over the social media and the Internet in the entire region, inflaming anti-China sentiment rapidly.
Chinese popularity is also expected to take a beating in Iran, which has been incensed by Pakistan's powerplay in Afghanistan, especially in the Panjshir valley where the people share strong linguistic and cultural ties with Tehran.
Trained in the Badlands of Syria and Iraq, Iran has trained militia groups of Afghans, organised under the banner of the Fatimyou brigade which has the capacity to launch covert strikes inside Afghanistan, should Tehran decide to do so.
Chinese support for the Pakistanis inside Afghanistan is likely to further infuriate the Baluch and other separatist groups which are already targeting Chinese projects which have been undertaken under the flag of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
By alienating a large number of governments and people in the Eurasian region, on account of its blind support of Pakistan, China now should be ready for severe blowback which can shatter its dreams of extending CPEC to Afghanistan, and coveting the resources of the country, which is known as the graveyard of empires.