China flag Photograph:( AFP )
China weaponises the development projects. Uses them to bind countries with debt
There are no doubts over India's credentials when it comes to reconstruction of Afghanistan. It is the largest regional donor to Afghanistan as per a report that further says that India has given more than three billion dollars to Afghanistan.
However, the Afghan arena is witnessing entry of a new player: China.
China weaponises the development projects. Uses them to bind countries with debt.
India is involved in developing Chabahar port in Iran. The port opens up a key trading route for India to Afghanistan. The port also gives India access to Central Asia.
Since February 2019, the Chabahar port has handled 123 vessels and 1.8 million tonnes of bulk and general cargoes.
During the pandemic, India used the Chabahar port to send 75,000 tonnes of wheat as humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. That's how Chabahar is important to Kabul. It can unlock development in Afghanistan.
But for that, the port project has to survive regional politics. American sanctions against Iran slowed its development. Now a recent deal between Iran and China threatens it.
China and Iran have recently signed a deal that makes promise of co-operation for 25 years.
Iran has been quick to assure "Indian, Chinese friends" that Chabahar was not aimed against anybody.
"We have made very clear to our Indian, Chinese friends that Chabahar is open for cooperation for everybody. Chabahar is not against China, is not against Gwadar. Chabahar is a place where we can all come together in order to help Afghanistan, help development and prosperity in the region," said Javad Zarif, Iran's Foreign Minister.
When it comes to getting involved in a particular country's internal matters, China has used the familiar strategy of 'debt trap'. Afghanistan and India may do well to be watchful for any such signs.