Neighboring countries of Afghanistan came together in the third meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbors in China. The meeting was attended by the Foreign Ministers of the neighboring countries and a 72-point agreement was reached at aiming at mega plans and projects to help rebuild Afghanistan mainly through economic reconstruction. China, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran successfully concluded the meeting which is expected to materialize in Afghanistan’s long-term progress and prosperity. The agreement includes areas of humanitarian assistance, economy, connectivity, trade, energy, agriculture, and capacity building. Though numerous humanitarian assistance projects are already operationalized on a bilateral basis, this meeting however puts the multilateral structure in shape. It is also hoped that the regional countries will help Afghanistan win back its frozen assets.
All countries decided from the forum of the 3rd meeting to further increase the humanitarian assistance that they are providing to Afghanistan on a bilateral basis. In this regard, Pakistan announced a ‘humanitarian assistance package’ of 5 billion for its neighbor. Since the take-over, Pakistan has been regularly supplying humanitarian aid and wheat supplies through Pak Afghan Cooperation Forum and has also been facilitating India’s wheat supply to Afghanistan by providing a transit route. Pakistan also hosted a special 48th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers where Afghanistan topped the agenda and a Trust Fund was made for Afghanistan along with some key appointments made to communicate and lobby for Muslim countries’ demands on Afghanistan on international fora.
China expressed its commitment to speed up its delivery of humanitarian supplies urgently needed in Afghanistan and also said that it will continue to provide medical supplies, vaccines, and other anti-epidemic equipment and supplies. It also expressed its willingness to expand its mega connectivity projects to Afghanistan, especially the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor. China also expressed the desire to invest and start businesses in Afghanistan once the on-ground security situation allows. All the sides agreed that agriculture can serve as the central pillar of the Afghan economy and capacity-building measures in this sector can help take Afghanistan to self-sufficiency gradually.
Iran agreed to increase electricity export to Afghanistan, while also expressing readiness to import Afghan agricultural produce once this sector kicks start. Both China and Iran also agreed to assist exploration and extraction of mines and mineral reserves that Afghanistan is blessed with. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan expressed willingness to cater to and provide for the population in the border areas which are some of the worst-hit and deprived settlements.
An overall message of support was extended to Afghanistan by the neighboring countries by highlighting what areas need the utmost attention and what strategies can be adopted to help the country on an immediate basis. Both short-term and long-term prospects formed part of the agreement.