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Pakistan, China mull extending CPEC to Afghanistan

Islamabad: Pakistan and China are mulling the possibility of extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan, a development that may prove to be a security concern for India.
On Monday, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood met China's Special Envoy on Afghanistan Ambassador Yue Xiaoyong.

"The two sides exchanged views on the political and security situation in Afghanistan, humanitarian assistance by Pakistan and China to Afghanistan, and other matters of mutual interest," the Pakistan foreign ministry said in a statement.

"In the context of regional connectivity, both sides exchanged views on the extension of CPEC to Afghanistan to promote economic development and prosperity," the statement added.

CPEC is a part of China's most ambitious project 'Belt and Road Initiative', aimed at renewing the country's historic trade routes in the coastal countries of south-east Asia.

In 2015, China announced the CPEC project which is worth USD 46 billion. Beijing aims to expand its influence in Pakistan and across Central and South Asia in order to counter the influence of the United States and India.
The CPEC would link Pakistan's southern Gwadar port in Balochistan on the Arabian Sea to China's western Xinjiang region. It also includes plans to create road, rail, and oil pipeline links to improve connectivity between China and the Middle East.

After the Taliban seized control over Afghanistan, the spokesperson of the Islamic group Zabiullah Mujahid said they "desire" to join the CPEC. This wish comes even as dozens of terrorist groups operating from Afghanistan target the multi-billion CPEC projects.

In December last year, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) CTD Javed Iqbal Wazir told The News International that over 90 per cent of the terrorist groups are planning attacks and operating from across the border (Afghanistan). He said these groups mainly target CPEC projects, key installations, polio teams and economic activity. (ANI)

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