Each step the Taliban are taking to consolidate their hold over Afghanistan since taking over the country in a blitz is triggering major changes across the region and afar. After their two decade-long involvement, US and NATO forces are no more major players, their hasty departure forcing Afghanistan’s neighbours to deal with the mess left behind. Can Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran help stabilise Afghanistan as they all jostle to get their particular interests accommodated by the Taliban? Moreover, amidst all this jockeying for power and influence in Afghanistan, will China fill the vacuum left by the US?
“China has openly expressed its view that US presence in Afghanistan was responsible for the mess. China has also kept ties with Taliban, including hosting their delegation led by Mullah Baradar. However, the assumption that China will be the beneficiary is I believe premature,” says Aparna Pandey of the Washington-based Hudson Institute.