NEW YORK - The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Sami (JUI-S) chief, Maulana Samiul Haq has called on China to play a larger role in negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan, now in its 17th year. In an interview with Bloomberg, an international news service, he said that China’s stake in regional peace is larger than America and Beijing would be welcomed as an arbitrator in the negotiations.
Haq spoke to Bloomberg at his seminary near Peshawar, according to its dispatch. Maulana Samiul Haq stressed China’s role, saying Beijing shouldn’t “leave matters of such a great importance solely to the U.S.” As U.S. President Donald Trump tentatively renews direct talks with the Taliban in a bid to end America’s longest war, Haq said peace negotiations can succeed if Washington announces a troop withdrawal date.
Joshua White, a former director for South Asian Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council and now non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, agreed with the Maulana. “The U.S. should welcome a greater role by China in the Afghan peace process,” White was quoted as saying in the dispatch.
“Perhaps the most useful thing that China can do is to encourage better ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which would contribute to the stability of the Afghan government and bolster its negotiating position.”
China’s government in August denied reports it had quietly increased its security presence in the country and built a military base in Afghanistan. However, it has increased economic aid and investment in the war-torn nation in recent years, including rail links.
“As long as there is an opportunity, China will promote peace talks in a private way,” Shi Yinhong, a foreign affairs adviser to China’s State Council and professor at Renmin University, was quoted as saying. “Some people wish China could provide more resources or even to send military forces, but this is not appropriate.” Maulana Samiul Haq said, “These peace talks can be fruitful only when the U.S. comes up with a clear agenda for withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.”
Haq warned the U.S. against keeping peace talks behind closed doors, which may mislead the Taliban’s rank-and-file into thinking their mediators are making questionable compromises while they fight on the battlefield. Haq also offered to help with the negotiations, according to Bloomberg. - APP