Afghanistan’s Potential Endgame June 21, 2010Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
There was a buzz last week because of a U.S. estimate that Afghanistan could possess $1 trillion in mineral wealth. That’s a pipe dream for now, but what’s real is a Chinese project to invest $3 billion in the Aynak copper mine, south of Kabul. To transport the copper, China has pledged to build a new railway route north, through Tajikistan, and the Chinese want to extend this rail link to the Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.
Then there’s the energy trade: The authors of the report, Frederick Starr and Andrew C. Kuchins, note that the Asian Development Bank is considering funding a $7.6 billion pipeline that would link natural gas reserves in Turkmenistan with energy-poor Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
More to the point, it explains why it would be in the interest of all the regional powers — especially Pakistan — to encourage a political settlement of the war that would open Afghanistan and other Central Asian markets to Pakistani merchants.