Dr. Shahid Minhas is an Assistant Professor and Head of Media and Communication Studies Department at GIFT University University, Gujranwala. His research centers in political economy of Media & War and Conflict Journalism.
What is the main trouble and risk China may face in future because of the reprise of Afghanistan? And what is your professional opinion to solve these problems may faced by China?
Beijing has advanced friendly relations with neighboring countries and worked for regional peace and stability, and Chine can transform Afghanistan. No doubt, China and Taliban are “friends”, and this is endorsed by Taliban spokesperson, that Taliban wants closer relations with China.”China is a very important strong country in our neighborhood, and we had good relations with China in past. However, uncertainty always leads to risk, and there is little trouble or risk for china due to this uncertain situation in Afghanistan. China shares 91-km long border with Afghanistan and the presence of ethnic Uighur militant groups like the East Turkestan Islamic movement and Turkestan Islamic party may create trouble for Beijing as in the mid-1970 many Uyghurs migrated from china to Afghanistan during an alleged crackdown in Xinjiang and they are living as Chinese refugees. Beijing must not ignore this phenomenon as a risk to China. Any support to Uighur groups may be a risk for China.
India, at the same time, is trying to engage with the Taliban and trying to navigate its role towards Taliban independent Government in Afghanistan, to overcome Pakistan and China increasing role in Afghanistan. The recent conflict between India and China and the involvement of India in Afghanistan may also be on the agenda of Beijing, it cannot be considered as a threat, however, a little trouble for China. On the other hand, the uncertain situation in Baluchistan which is also linked with Afghanistan, it can be noted that crises in Afghanistan are directly proportional to crises in Baluchistan, can be considered a security risk to Beijing.
I understand that it is not the right time or good environment for the investment in Afghanistan, but in near future, the country will be able for the investment and trade and Afghanistan, can be used as the link road between the regions. Afghanistan must be a part of the Belt and Road Imitative, and Beijing must focus on the trade and other investments in Afghanistan for the positive transformation of the Taliban government. Beijing must also look into a cross-border trade route with Afghanistan. Beijing must extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan and also need to invest in Afghanistan’s cornucopia of natural resources like iron ore.
It is also important to mention here that Pakistan, has also an important role in Afghanistan, to me, Beijing and Islamabad, jointly, must play a role to avoid increasing Indian role in Afghanistan to secure its both interests.
What do you think are the prospects of the Taliban in enforcing freedom for Afghan women?
Yes, this time, we will see a little different situation in Afghanistan. As Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban, spokesperson, said in his interview that Afghan women would be free to return to normal life, but there is no chance of women's freedom as like in a democratic government. Precisely, afghan women would be free to work but under Sharia law and hypothetical explanation of the Sharia would remain by and large the same as the 90s.
Afghan women must follow Veil (Parda, in Urdu) outside the home, I am talking about all sorts of working women of Afghanistan. Of course, you will see women working as newscasters, reporters, doctors, and actresses but with some sort of enforced dress code. Taliban will try to project an image of moderation and inclusivity to avoid being isolated by the international community and for this reason, the Taliban will try to avoid some hard restrictions imposed on the women like the previous regime. For instance, in education terms, there will be no co-education under the Taliban government. When the Taliban came to power in 1996, it enforced strict dress codes on men and women and largely barred women from work and education. However, this time, there will be things are expected to be different from the 90s. There is also a major point, to highlight here that restrictions on women may vary by province. Orders and freedom for women will be different in the main cities of Afghanistan compared to other small cities and areas. For sure, the Islamic system is completely different from the democratic system, but the Taliban, under some international pressure and to avoid violation of the agreement made with the international community, will not act like the past.
Editor Assistant Research Fellow: Xianglin Gu