'Pak-China-Afghanistan Trilateral Cooperation Will Lead To Regional Development, Peace': Speakers

'Pak-China-Afghanistan trilateral cooperation will lead to regional development, peace': Speakers

The speakers at a panel discussion on Thursday stressed that trilateral cooperation between Pakistan, China and Afghanistan could lead to development and ensure peace in the region

ISLAMABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 27th May, 2021 ) :The speakers at a panel discussion on Thursday stressed that trilateral cooperation between Pakistan, China and Afghanistan could lead to development and ensure peace in the region.

The Centre for Afghanistan, middle East & Africa (CAMEA) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) on Pakistan-China-Afghanistan: Prospects of Trilateral Cooperation for Regional Stability' virtually gathered thinkers and intellectuals to deliberate upon the aspects of cooperation.

Ambassador Omar Samad, non-resident Senior Fellow Atlantic Council said China had made it clear that it was dedicated to improve connectivity and build an open inclusive world community.

The Afghan conflict, he said, serves as a distraction to the economic connectivity of the region.

He said for China, the CPEC and China-Central Asia corridor are both crucial for the success of Belt and Road Initiative and in their junction, lies Afghanistan.

Ambassador Masood Khalid, former ambassador to China said China wants Afghanistan and Pakistan to work hard to overcome misgivings about each other.

Depending on the ground situation, China will be willing to help Afghanistan in socio-economic development, he added.

He said trilateral cooperation would engage Pakistan's workforce, industries, untapped resources and markets in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He termed peace as a requisite for any meaningful trilateral cooperation to take place.

Prof. Lin Minwang, Deputy Director of the Center for South Asian Studies and Assistant to the Dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, China, said China's interest in Afghanistan is multifaceted, particularly in the avenue of counter-terrorism.

He said China views Pakistan as its important partner, both having convergence of views on Afghanistan.

Director CAMEA Amina Khan said China had now began to assume a key role, particularly exploring avenues to help bring peace and stability to Afghanistan by providing necessary facilitation.

Under the trilateral framework, she said, there had been talk of exploring the possibility of extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan under the larger BRI initiative.

She said while the opportunities and benefits arising out of CPEC's possible extension to Afghanistan remain vast, at the same time a number of the challenges could arise including Kabul's apparent reluctance, unstable security situation in Afghanistan, the complex nature of Pak -Afghan ties, the Indo-Pak rivalry and existence of numerous terrorist groups.

Director General ISSI Ambassador Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said the focus on peace and stability and counter-terrorism reigned supreme, with concurrently the development component involving trade, investment and a possible extension of CPEC.

He said Pakistan wants peace on border, counter-terrorism, trade and people to people contact. Needless to say, any meaningful trilateral cooperation depends on peace in Afghanistan, he added.

Dr Talat Shabbir, Director China-Pakistan Study Center (CPSC) said that there was a convergence of views between Pakistan and China regarding peace, connectivity and prosperity in the region.

He said both China and Pakistan hoped that peace will prevail post US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

However for any development, the peace in Afghanistan is important and at the moment the post-withdrawal scenario is still debatable since September 11 seemed a long way off, he added.

Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman ISSI said Pakistan, China and Afghanistan's cooperation could be viewed through the lens of peace and stability, development, reconstruction and counter-terrorism - the last three dependent on the first factor.

He said Afghanistan's cooperation was restrained by spoilers inside and outside of the country.

"We need a wider regional consensus which is backed by the US and other western countries," he said.