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China, Russia And Turkey Side With Pakistan On Afghanistan Issue

By Polina Tikhonova. Originally published at ValueWalk.

China and Russia assure Pakistan to veto US sanctions against Islamabad, as Turkey pledges to work together with the brotherly ally for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is reaping the benefits of this week’s tour around Eurasian allies – China, Russia, Iran and Turkey – by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, while experts talk about the possibility of Islamabad, Beijing, Moscow and Ankara forming a united bloc that would defend Pakistan against US.

russia china turkey side with pakistan vs us
SyedWasiqShah / Pixabay

China and Russia have reportedly assured Pakistan at the diplomatic level that they would veto any attempts from the US to squeeze economic sanctions on Pakistan through the United Nations. The unequivocal support from Beijing and Moscow, two out of five permanent members in the UN Security Council, comes amid Washington’s mounting pressure against Islamabad.

US considering sanctions against Pakistan

Pakistan-US tensions show no signs of going away ever since US President Donald Trump delivered a national address last month, criticizing Pakistan – America’s long-time ally – in harboring “agents of chaos” on its soil.

Ever since Trump’s speech, in which the US President warned Islamabad had “much to lose” by continuing to provide “safe havens” to militants, US-Pakistan relations have been shaken by political whirlwinds, prompting the South Asian nation to seek closer ties with China and Russia, who were among the first ones to defend Islamabad against Trump’s strategy.

The Afghan strategy laid out the groundwork for the Trump administration to decide it would give Pakistan access to $225 million worth of military assistance only after it stops harboring the Haqqani Network militants on its soil, the claim Islamabad vehemently denies. Washington also expects Islamabad to step up efforts in the fight against terrorism in the region, and hinted it would impose sanctions against Pakistani officials allegedly connected to militants.

While the list of targeted Pakistani officials has been undisclosed, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi warned the US against imposing sanctions on Monday, saying in an interview with Reuters that the sanctions would only “degrade our effort” and would “hurt the US effort” in waging war against terror.

China and Russia join forces with Pakistan on Afghanistan issue

Two weeks after President Trump unveiled the Afghan strategy, Pakistan started approaching key international and regional powers at the diplomatic level to seek their support in the Pakistan vs US diplomatic crisis.

This past week, Pakistani FM Asif has toured around key regional players such as Russia, China, Turkey and Iran and rallied their unequivocal support for Pakistan’s sacrifice in the war on terrorism.

What comes as the most prominent victory for the Pakistani government, Islamabad has held diplomatic contacts with two veto-wielding nations in the UN – Beijing and Moscow – and the two partners have reportedly pledged to veto any US moves to slap Pakistan with sanctions at the UN.

The two powers have taken Pakistan’s side from the very beginning of Pakistan-US diplomatic crisis, but Islamabad-based diplomatic sources told Daily Express earlier this week that Russia and China agreed to veto any UN sanctions against the South Asian nation.

Pakistan has criticized Washington for failing to acknowledge the nation’s sacrifices in the war on terror, which has claimed the lives of nearly 22,000 Pakistani civilians and left over 6,800 Pakistan’s soldiers dead since 2003.

Pakistan

Islamabad is also reportedly set to approach key Western powers such as France and the United Kingdom to hold talks with the diplomats of French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Theresa May and oppose the US policy of putting diplomatic and economic pressure on Pakistan.

Another major victory of Asif’s tour around Eurasia was his trip to Turkey, where the Pakistani FM met with Turkish President Recip Tayyep Erdogan and other high-level officials of the Turkish government. The two Muslim nations, who have enjoyed brotherly relations for centuries, have further cemented their ties during the meeting on Tuesday.

Ankara and Islamabad voiced their similar views on the Afghan crisis, with Turkey reiterating that it opposed a military solution to the Afghan war, which Trump’s strategy offers. The two allied nations have agreed that they would continue to work together for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Last Thursday, Moscow-based political analyst Andrew Korybko told ValueWalk that forming a bloc between Pakistan, China, Russia and Turkey would not only become a game-changer strategy to achieving peace in Afghanistan, but also help “revolutionize” Eurasian geopolitics as a whole.

What does Turkey have to gain from all this?

With the four nations inching closer to formalizing a united front against Trump’s Afghan strategy, what do Russia, China and Turkey have to gain from taking sides in the Pakistan vs US row?

Ankara, which had for decades sought to become a member of the European Union (EU), made a U-turn in its foreign policy goals when the international community unleashed criticism on the Erdogan regime for its handling of an attempted military coup in July 2016.

As Turkey shares the same views with China and Russia on multiple international issues such as the Afghan war, Ankara is gravitating towards becoming a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a China- and Russia-led Eurasian political, economic, and security organization.

Why China cares about Pakistan and Afghanistan

China views Pakistan, its all-weather ally, as the key pillar of stability, peace and prosperity in the region. Beijing is investing at least $54 billion into its joint project with the South Asian ally, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a vital part of its mammoth One Belt, One Road initiative.

A stable and peaceful Pakistan is essential to China’s security and national interests, as Beijing places great importance on the game-changer project. The economic corridor links China’s Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port through a network of rail and road projects.

The two embattled regions remain under a major threat from Islamic militants, which has prompted Beijing and Islamabad to increase their joint anti-terrorism cooperation in the region. The roller-coaster in US-Pakistan relations has also prompted Islamabad to seek China’s military assistance, though it may be challenging for China to fully replace US military aid to Pakistan in the short-term.

As stability in Afghanistan translates to peace in Pakistan, China is prepared to protect Pakistan’s goals and counterterrorism measures at the diplomatic level. By being involved in the process of resolving the Afghan crisis, Beijing also enhances its influence in security affairs in Central and South Asia.

Why would Russia back Pakistan?

Russia’s unlikely rapprochement with its Cold War-era enemy, Pakistan, has been a heated topic of discussion in both Pakistan and India, Moscow’s traditional South Asian ally.

As Islamabad and New Delhi oftentimes engage in fierce fights on the international arena, India losing its reliable ally in the face of Russia would have a severe impact on New Delhi’s foreign policy objectives. Trump’s Afghan strategy appears to have pushed Pakistan deeper into the arms of Russia, whose goals in Afghanistan have been in accord with China and Pakistan, according to a recent report by the Carnegie Institute.

Avinash Paliwal, author of the Carnegie report, argues that Russia’s approaches in the Afghan crisis “are no longer in accord with India’s.” The author added that Moscow’s ongoing outreach to “the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan has raised concerns that Moscow could be deviating from earlier approaches that it had shared with India.”

Russia, which has long viewed Afghanistan within its sphere of influence and waged a decades-long war on Afghan soil in the ‘80s, has increased its contacts with the Taliban and has urged all sides of the Afghan conflict to hold a dialogue with the Taliban to find a cohesive solution to the devastating war.

As for Russia’s rapprochement with Islamabad, Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted decades-long embargo on arms sales to Pakistan in 2014. Later that year, Moscow and Islamabad signed a historic agreement to expand their military ties. Last year, the two nations held unprecedented joint military exercises under the name of “Friendship 2016.”

The post China, Russia And Turkey Side With Pakistan On Afghanistan Issue appeared first on ValueWalk.

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