Context:

The US, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan have agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity,

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important International Groupings, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the new US, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan Quad
  2. Significance of the new quad grouping
  3. How will this impact China’s BRI initiative?

About the new US, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan Quad

  • The US State Department announced the setting up of the new diplomatic platform on July 2021 to help strengthen economic connectivity across the region.
  • The department announced that representatives from Washington, Kabul, Islamabad, and Tashkent had agreed, in principle, to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity.
  • All four nations- the US, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links and strengthen business-to-business ties, recognising the historic opportunity to open flourishing interregional trade routes.
  • The representatives from the four nations will be meeting in the coming months to determine the modalities of the cooperation with mutual consensus.
  • The new diplomatic platform will work to expand trade, build transit links and strengthen business-to-business ties.

Significance of the new quad grouping

  • Afghanistan is bordered by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north, Pakistan towards the east and south, Iran to the west and China to the northeast – The land-locked nation’s location has for a long time been seen as a competitive advantage for the country.
  • Afghanistan has since long been the crossroads of commerce between Asian countries by connecting them to Europe and enhancing religious, cultural and commercial contacts.
  • The new ‘quad’ group appears to be a means for the United States to retain its foothold in the region after it completes its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • However, ever since the US has begun withdrawing its troops, violence has been rising and efforts to broker a peace agreement between the Afghan government and Taliban have slowed down.

How will this impact China’s BRI initiative?

  • The new quad group’s formation is significant as it comes amid China’s efforts to extend its Belt Road Initiative (BRI) to Afghanistan.
  • The Belt Road Initiative was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013.
  • The Belt Road Initiative aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
  • Afghanistan due to its strategic location can provide China with a strategic base to spread its influence across the world.
  • Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had visited Uzbekistan in the past week for an official two-day visit during which he highlighted the benefits of regional connectivity and invited the nation to become party to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

-Source: The Hindu

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