ISLAMABAD: China, Pakistan and Russia are inching closer to form an alliance to stabilise war-torn Afghanistan, where the three countries see the emergence of Islamic State terror group as a common threat, a media report on Monday said.
The strategic calculation is changing after competing for well over two decades. Islamabad and Moscow are all set to become part of a possible alliance in a dramatic turnaround in their otherwise frosty relationship for decades.
What has compelled Pakistan and Russia to join hands is apprehensions that the United States may not be interested in bringing stability to Afghanistan for its own strategic interests, The Express Tribune reported.
“These fears have now opened up the possibility of an alliance between Pakistan, Russia and China in an unprecedented development that will shape the future of this volatile region,” according to the report.
It quoted military and Foreign Office sources as saying that the three countries were inching closer to formalising their relationship with an aim to bring regional stability, particularly seeking a political solution to the Afghan war.
The sources said Pakistan as well as China and Russia reached a conclusion that the US wanted to prolong the conflict in Afghanistan. This situation, officials pointed out, has left Pakistan with no other option but to seek a regional solution by involving Russia, China and Iran.
Moscow already hosted two meetings involving Pakistani and Chinese officials to discuss the Afghanistan problem. Another such gathering with a larger audience is scheduled later this month. The objective of these meetings is to evolve a regional consensus for the lingering conflict in Afghanistan.
The biggest fear among the regional countries, including China and Russia, is the emergence of IS in Afghanistan. There were reports that thousands of fighters were being sent to Afghanistan from Syria, a development, Pakistan, Russia and China believe is aimed at further destabilising the war-torn country.
These countries suspect the US may be using IS as a proxy to further its interests, particularly to counter China and a resurgent Russia.
The Afghan problem has brought Pakistan and Russia close in terms of strategic and defence cooperation. Last week, the Pakistan army took a high-powered Russian military delegation to the volatile North Waziristan Agency to give them a firsthand account of the country’s anti-terror gains.
The development is part of a series of steps taken to open a new chapter in Pakistan-Russia ties that have long been held hostage to the politics of ‘Cold War’ era.