Russia-Pak.-China forum clouds Afghan donor meet

After helicopter sales, and military exercises with Pakistan, India’s traditional ally, Russia, is working on a regional partnership on Afghanistan that includes Pakistan and China.

Announcing the meeting of ‘Russia-China-Pakistan’ consultations to be held in Moscow in December, Zamir Kabulov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Director, 2nd Asian department, said the meeting would “lay the ground” for a regional project centred around Afghanistan. Despite naming India and Iran as regional stake-holders, the Russian official didn’t include them in the consultations to be held next month.

The timing of the announcement is significant as it comes just ahead of the 14-nation ‘Heart of Asia’ donor conference for Afghanistan, due to be held in Amritsar on December 3 and 4. The government is expected to formally announce the conference later this week.

The Punjab government has completed construction of a “heritage walk” around the Golden Temple that is expected to be showcased to guests.

Pakistan’s participation

The annual Heart of Asia (HoA) conference is held by turns in one of the member countries that include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz, Russia, Saudi, Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and United Arab Emirates. The last summit, held in Islamabad in December 2015, was attended by Foreign Ministers of most of those countries, including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who had used the visit to announce the resumption of India-Pakistan comprehensive dialogue which was, however, derailed because of the Pathankot attack.

This year amidst rising tensions at the LoC between both countries after the Uri attack, Pakistani is yet to confirm whom it will send to the HoA conference, senior officials told The Hindu. In October, Pakistan Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz had confirmed that Pakistan would attend, but didn’t specify the level of its participation.

The separate consultation in Moscow fuels speculation of a growing Russia-China-Pakistan axis, spurred by the new ties between Moscow and Islamabad in the past few months. In September, India made its displeasure known when Russian troops went ahead with military exercises, their first such engagement in Pakistan, just days after the Uri attack. Despite India’s requests during the BRICS summit, Russia and China refused to insert specific references to “cross-border” terror that targets India in the final statement.

Corrections and Clarifications:

>>In the above article, there was a reference to a 13-nation ‘Heart of Asia’ donor conference. Actually, it is a 14-nation conference.

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Printable version | May 3, 2021 6:03:10 PM |

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