Forming A New QUAD Group!
The US had joined hands with Australia, India and Japan in 2007 to form the QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, also known as the QSD) in an attempt to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific Region. Now, Washington DC is planning to form another QUAD grouping in Asia with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan for a different purpose.
According to sources close to the Joe Biden Administration, Washington DC, Kabul, Islamabad and Tashkent have already decided to establish the new quadrilateral diplomatic platform for enhancing regional connectivity. The US State Department confirmed the news on July 16 (2021), saying in a statement: “The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing.” It added: “The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus.”
A senior State Department official, who wished to remain anonymous, has stressed that it is the historic opportunity for the US to open flourishing interregional trade routes in South and Central Asia. According to the official, all the parties have agreed to cooperate with each other in order to expand trade, build transit links, and strengthen business-to-business ties.
The top US official has expressed hope that Afghanistan’s strategic location shall provide the US with a competitive advantage. It may be noted Afghanistan 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. In other words, the war-ravaged South Asian nation is located at the heart of the historic Silk Road, re-constructed by China. The official further said that Afghanistan has been serving as the crossroads of commerce between Asian countries, connecting them to Europe. At the same time, Afghanistan has also strengthened religious, cultural, and commercial contacts between Asia and Europe.
Meanwhile, Geopolitical Experts are of the opinion that while the main aim of the existing QUAD is to boost defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region, the formation of the proposed QUAD is aimed at countering China’s plan to extend its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to Afghanistan. In other words, the US is not ready to allow the Asian Giant to use Afghanistan as a strategic base to spread its influence across the globe after the withdrawal of the US troops.
In a changing Global Geopolitical Landscape, it will be interesting to see how Pakistan can maintain close ties with China (considered as Pakistan’s All-Weather Friend), even after joining the US-led QUAD. The two QUADs will certainly help Washington DC increase its influence from Central Asia to the Indo-Pacific Region. As far as Australia, India and Japan are concerned, the presence of the US in the proposed QUAD will assure that there will be no conflict between the two Groupings. However, the development could bring China closer to Russia, as it will be difficult for both Beijing and Moscow to accept the increase in US activities in Asia.
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