By Farman Nawaz Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-15 15:23:01
Third world countries devastated by wars, especially the countries without a solid economic basis, always looked toward the West for reconstruction and rehabilitation. Today, the people of Afghanistan too are struggling hard to turn the wheel of fortune in their motherland.
Unlike the past, today’s Afghans are wise enough to differentiate between sincere friends and foes in disguise. The investors and donors might be in search of favorites among Afghans, but Afghan groups either part of the parliament or sitting outside the parliament are no longer interested in working for the outsiders. Foreign contributions are welcome, but interference is no longer tolerated by Afghans.
In this scenario of political and economic transition in Afghanistan, Chinese entrepreneurs will soon be able to win the hearts of Afghans because Chinese investment is always based on the concept of mutual benefit and no interference in the internal affairs of the recipient country. This type of investment is a requirement of Afghans since they are tired of proxy wars and rivalries.
The main vacuum left by the US is a long-term one, and sustainable investment on agriculture, mineral resources, gas, and electric power plant sectors are considered to be the necessary forces for an Afghan recovery.
China has no economic rival in Afghanistan since the country is devastated and suffers from dozens of paralyzing problems. It welcomes investment from across the world to contribute to the well-being of Afghanistan.
Although China has no vital economic rival in Afghanistan, worsening security situation is the main factor that threatens the whole region and the Chinese investment in Afghanistan as well. Some Afghan analysts reject this perception of insecurity which has been created to paralyze the economic growth of the country.
Therefore, the Chinese role in bringing the warring factions to table is highly appreciated by Afghans. China is considered a neutral country in Afghanistan, so if it acts as a mediator for talks there is a bigger chance that all parties accept the outcome.
According to Afghan journalists, China seeks guarantees that Afghanistan should not function as a base for any militant groups. In this regard, the training provided by China to military officials would be a more direct way to shape the security and stability of Afghanistan.
As for the Chinese initiative of linking Afghanistan by road to its neighboring countries, the Afghan journalists think that this is the best suggestion, enabling environment for trade, private investment, and entrepreneurial development. Overall opportunities for trade, development and cooperation are immense, and they should be turned into gains. The project could significantly boost the economies of the countries involved, enhance stability and improve living standards in Central and South Asia.
Afghanistan offers a point of access to an extended regional market of more than 2 billion people, linking the Middle East to South, Central and Southeast Asia. For neighboring countries, sustained peace in Afghanistan, open trade and private sector-led growth facilitated by supportive public policies, institutions and social and infrastructure investment, will help secure higher growth and reduce the risk of future economic insecurity.
The Silk Road initiative could change the fate of the war-weary nation. It will provide a golden opportunity for Afghans to export products easily, and with low tariffs, to several countries.
The author is a Pakistani columnist and runs an Urdu Weekly newspaper in Pakistan. This article is drawn from an e-mail correspondence with Afghan and Indian journalists. firstname.lastname@example.org