The third meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbors is going on in China since the takeover of the Taliban in August last year. Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbors (Pakistan, Iran, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan) are taking part in the meeting in Tunxi, China’s Eastern province. The meeting will spread over two days, 30th and 31st March. It is expected that the initiation of major investment projects will be on top of the agenda of this third round of regional dialogue. The first and second meetings were hosted by Pakistan and Tehran respectively; the first was a day after the Taliban announced their government in Afghanistan and the second in October 2021. Since the on-ground emerging situation in Afghanistan is still crucial and sensitive, this third series of dialogue under China’s supervision has the world’s eyes focused on Tunxi. For this third meeting, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, arrives in China to take part in the ministerial moot.
It is expected that Afghanistan’s Interim Foreign Minister, Amir Khan Mutaqqi, will also be attending the session. The probability of this is also high because of the Chinese Foreign Minister’s recent visit to Kabul. It was the first high-level visit from China to Afghanistan and demonstrates the interest China is taking in Afghanistan’s rebuilding and economic uplift. China has come up as the first major power to take interest in investment projects in Afghanistan since the takeover. Afghanistan is also looking forward to Chinese investment. Afghanistan has huge mineral reserves yet unexplored, hence a big mining industry. Its mineral worth is estimated at more than $1 trillion. Copper stands out as one of the largest mineral resources in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s neighbors have displayed interest in making it a part of several infrastructural and connectivity projects as well, for example, Pakistan and Uzbekistan’s joint railroad project. Afghanistan’s mining potential has remained compromised all these decades due to war and instability.
With the threat of a looming humanitarian crisis and the heart-breaking reality of children dying of malnutrition in Afghanistan, such investment projects are the need of the hour. As Pakistan’s Foreign Minister stressed before flying to China that Afghanistan is a “shared and collective responsibility” and must be treated as such. He also said, “Instability in Afghanistan will have negative consequences for the entire world.” These statements and the third meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbors are proof enough that the countries taking part in the dialogue are very well aware of the fact that timely support and mega projects will make way for Afghanistan’s economic recovery. Investment projects will create jobs for the local population of Afghanistan, where 500000 jobs have been lost since the takeover last year. This is a very alarming situation, and the meeting of the foreign ministers in China holds hope for diluting this situation and creating opportunities for the brave nation that Afghans are.
It remains to be seen, however, what type of projects are announced. Since China has mostly remained interested in mega connectivity and supply chain projects, something similar can be expected. But given the huge mineral wealth potential of Afghanistan, China might like to invest in the mining industry.