Kabul : The Afghanistan Government slammed China for reportedly hosting a Taliban delegation at its capital Beijing. ‘China should not provide a platform to the Taliban groups involved in the slaying of Afghans’, its external affairs ministry stated. It is the first time Afghanistan has openly criticized China in such manner.
The Taliban delegation was led by Abbas Stanakazai, head of the Islamist insurgency’s so called political office at Qatar and they visited Beijing on July 18-22 at the invitation of the Chinese Government. “We have good terms with different countries of the world and China is one among them. We informed Chinese officials about the occupation by invading forces and their atrocities against Afghan people. We wanted the Chinese leadership to help us raise these issues on world forums and help us get freedom from occupying forces,” reported leading Pak daily ‘Dawn’ quoting an unnamed Taliban official.
The visit was also confirmed by other senior Taliban figures who did not want to be named as they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the Qatar political office. They confirmed periodical talks were being held with China. Taliban claims harmonious and friendly relations with China and for the past few years’ of taking measures for peace talks between the Government of Afghanistan and the delegations of Taliban.
The Chinese foreign ministry has so far not commented on whether it received and entertained the Taliban delegation, even as the Ashraf Ghani Government in Kabul has taken pot shots at Beijing for hosting the Taliban.
“Afghanistan and China enjoy strong friendly relations We believe our friends in China will always prefer to maintain state-to-state relations and will not provide a platform to those groups that are responsible of the killing of the people of Afghanistan,” Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Shakib Mustaghani said in Kabul.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson replied to ‘China Daily’ through a written statement that China wants the Afghan Government and Taliban to hold peaceful talks as soon as possible to restore peace and stability.
China has been part of ‘’Quadrilateral Coordination Group’’ (QCG) along with USA and Pakistan who tried to work together and restart peaceful talks between Afghanistan and delegation of Taliban. But those efforts could not succeed beyond exploratory talks and critics do not anticipate resumption of the peace process in the foreseeable future. Afghanistan and Taliban have failed to develop friendly ties and peace amongst themselves.
China and Pakistan have taken the lead to mediate for peace talks between Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. It is said that Pakistan is making special efforts to arrange talks among the two because it wants to be able to exercise control over all matters involving Afghanistan.
While working surreptitiously with Taliban on one side, China continues building up its influence with the official Afghanistan government in order safeguard its business interests and be a potent political force in the region. By thus engaging with both parties China is trying to play safe eyeing the investment opportunities in Afghanistan.
China’s secretive meetings with Taliban have caused anger in Afghanistan, and this is likely to lead to further delays in peace talks.