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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

China will likely repent its relationship with the Taliban

Playing with fire


AMIR HOSSAIN | Issue Dated: July 12, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Taliban | Al Qaeda | War on Terror | Uighur militants |

Every country charts out its policies on anti-terror strategies based on varied dynamics governing bilateral relations, anti terror mechanisms, and even direct contacts with outlawed or terror groups. For instance, the United States is in direct conflict with outlawed groups like the Taliban and Al Qaeda, which have been their primary adversaries in the “War on Terror.” China, on the other hand, has a policy of striking covert deals with groups such as the Taliban, mainly with an eye on insulating itself of possible Taliban meddling in its susceptible Uighur province, where a majority Muslim population is fighting for a separate breakaway homeland. The secret appeasement tactics has gone to the extent that Beijing has welcomed the decision of the Taliban to set up a liaison office in the neighbouring Qatar.

China’s suspicion of Uighur militants being backed by Taliban forces had triggered a major crackdown by the authorities in Xinjiang in the late 1990s. As a result, the Chinese government ended a deal in December 2000 with the Taliban's leader Mohammed Omar, which forbade the Taliban from carrying out any secessionist activities in Uighur in return for China providing them “Formal political recognition and protection from U.N. sanctions.” However, the Chinese government secretly continued its relationship with the Quetta Shura, the Taliban's leadership council even after 9/11. Moreover, several media reports have highlighted that “China has been expanding its contacts with the Taliban and sounding them out on security issues that range from separatist groups in Xinjiang to the protection of Chinese resource investments” during the past one year.

 To cut it short, China may have benefitted from Taliban’s assistance so far. But the fact is that the Taliban has its own agenda and interests and might not be amenable to walking the Chinese line for too long. China should realise that its arrangement with the Taliban is a stop-gap deal that might fall like a pack of cards, as has been the case with Pakistan. Sooner than later, China will come to realise that its dalliance with the Taliban is like playing with fire.  

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017