ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has claimed it is in discussions with the Taliban-led Afghanistan government to join the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project to help the country grow its economy.
In an interview with Reuters, Pakistan’s envoy to Kabul, Mansoor Ahmad Khan, said, “Regional connectivity is an essential aspect of our engagement with Afghan leadership and our way forward for our economic connection with Afghanistan.”
“This significant project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, offers excellent prospects and potential for establishing infrastructural and energy connections between Afghanistan and Pakistan… (as well as) linking South Asia with Central Asia.”
CPEC is a key component of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which includes more than $60 billion in infrastructure projects in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s ambassador stated that talks had taken place in Kabul with the new Taliban administration about this and other measures to assist Afghanistan’s economy.
“I believe there is a strong desire to improve Afghanistan’s economic connectivity with Pakistan via the CPEC, as well as with other neighbouring nations such as Iran, China, and Central Asian countries.”
Meetings with Taliban officials have recently taken place in Pakistan, China, and Russia.
During the meetings, Khan stated that security and economic growth were the top priorities. During future talks with the Taliban, China and Russia are likely to stick together.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on August 15, the country’s economy has been on the verge of collapsing, and foreign help has been cut off. The freezing of billions of dollars in central bank assets stored overseas has thrown Afghanistan’s financial sector into disarray.
Pakistan, according to Khan, is also attempting to cooperate with the international community to remove banking regulations. Several Pakistani finance executives have recently visited Kabul to assess the situation.
Pakistan is concerned about the economic strains that its neighbour is experiencing. It borders Afghanistan and is home to millions of Afghan refugees.
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, has urged the international community not to isolate the Taliban government, arguing that help should be provided to avert economic collapse and a flood of refugees.
Pakistan has yet to recognise Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government. “The questions of official recognition would come later since Pakistan is part of the world community,” the Pakistani envoy said.