The USA formed a new Quad Group with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan: Here's what you need to know
As the US prepare to pull out its troops from Afghanistan, violence escalated in the region. Amid this, the United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan have agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform that focuses on enhancing regional connectivity with a key focus on Afghanistan. It was announced by the Biden Administration on 16 July 2021.
Today, we announced a new diplomatic platform to help strengthen economic connectivity across the region. We look forward to partnering with Afghanistan, Pakistan & Uzbekistan to enhance regional cooperation, a cornerstone to a sustained peace. https://t.co/FjiIiPScmp pic.twitter.com/M83X390nfN— State_SCA (@State_SCA) July 16, 2021
The aforementioned nations have agreed to meet in the coming months to chalk out the modalities of the said cooperation with mutual consensus.
According to a statement issued by the US State Department, "The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing."
The parties have recognised this opportunity to open flourishing inter-regional trade routes, build transit links, expand trade and strengthen business-to-business ties.
The statement further added, "The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus."
This announcement came during the international conference on 'Central and South Asia Regional Connectivity: Challenges and Opportunities', hosted by Uzbekistan in Tashkent from 15-16 July 2021. Originally scheduled to discuss building better transportation links across Central and South Asia, the conference centred on Afghanistan due to the increased instances of violence as US troops withdraw in a phased manner.
Significance of the Quad Group
Afghanistan's strategic location holds a competitive advantage as it is located at the centre of the historic Silk Road and has served as a crossroad for trade between Asian countries connecting them to Europe, and enhancing religious, cultural, and commercial ties.
It is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north, and China to the northeast.
It may also help the United States to retain its foothold in the region after it completes its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
BRI initiative of China
The formation of the new quad group is critical amid China's desire to extend its Belt Road Initiative (BRI) to Afghanistan. By virtue of its location, Afghanistan may provide China with a strategic base to spread its influence across the world.
What is Belt Road Initiative (BRI)?
The Belt Road Initiative (BRI) is a multi-billion-dollar initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013.
The initiative aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
It is to be noted that since the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, violence has escalated in the region and efforts to broker peace agreements between the Afghan government and Taliban have slowed down.