Taliban say assistance from Pakistan, China important for Afghanistan

Mujahid says extension of CPEC into Afghanistan is key / Economic future of Afghanistan ‘rests chiefly in the hands of China’

ISLAMABAD: Taliban Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid Friday said Pakistan’s assistance to Afghanistan was very significant, adding that the extension of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor by linking it with Afghanistan was very important.

Speaking online at an international conference hosted by the Pak-Afghan Youth Forum titled “Rebuilding Afghanistan Together” at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts, Mujahid spoke for the first time specifically of CPEC, saying that the extension of the corridor, that links it with Afghanistan, “is very important”.

He said Afghanistan hopes Pakistan’s help to the Afghan nation will continue “in terms of its peace efforts and increasing the bilateral trade and commerce”.

The spokesperson said that Afghanistan “appreciates the longstanding contributions of Pakistan towards the Afghan people” and that Pakistan can rest assured it will “not have any threat from Afghanistan”.

Speaking about threats posed to Pakistan by proscribed terrorist outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, said that the issue must be resolved by the Pakistan government, not by Afghanistan.

Asked if the Taliban will speak to the TTP to not engage in a conflict with Pakistan, Mujahid said: “The future (Afghanistan) government will have the rightful say about this. However, our principled stance is that we will not allow the use of our soil by anyone for destroying the peace in someone else’s country”.

He said that if the TTP considers the Afghan Taliban as their leaders, “they will have to listen to them, whether they like it or not”.

The Taliban spokesman added that it is up to Pakistan, and Pakistani ulema and religious figures, not the Taliban, to decide on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of their war and to formulate a strategy in this regard.

ECONOMIC FUTURE OF AFGHANISTAN WITH CHINA:

Mujahid has in the past laid great emphasis on Afghanistan’s relations with China. In an interview published in the Italian publication La Repubblica, Mujahid said that the “economic future of Afghanistan rests chiefly in the hands of China” as it has agreed to help rebuild the war-torn country.

Mujahid was quoted as saying: “China is our most important partner and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us because it is ready to invest and rebuild our country”.

Speaking of the New Silk Road or the One Belt, One Road initiative, that seeks to link China with Africa, Asia and Europe through an enormous network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks, the spokesperson said that the project was held in “high regard” by the Taliban.

Mujahid said the Taliban “care a lot about the ‘one belt, one road’ project. We own rich copper mines, which, thanks to the Chinese, will be modernised. Finally, China represents our ticket to the markets around the world.”

Mujahid said that the New Silk Road or the One Belt, One Road initiative, which seeks to link China with Africa, Asia and Europe through an enormous network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks was held in “high regard” by the Taliban.

“There are rich copper mines in (Afghanistan), which, thanks to the Chinese, can be put back into operation and modernised. In addition, China is our pass to markets all over the world,” he concluded.

Mian Abrar
Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]
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