The Taliban takeover of landlocked Afghanistan is expected to change shipping patterns in Central Asia.
Afghanistan had previously been working with India and Iran to develop Chabahar Port in Iran’s east. The port, in the works for the best part of the decade, has been seen as an alternative to Chinese-backed port developments in Pakistan. However, with the Taliban back in charge of the country, Afghan exports and imports are now more likely to go through Karachi.
How China chooses to interact with Afghanistan and its new leaders will also be watched closely by Central Asian transport experts. The country’s strategic, crossroads location could make it an important chain in Beijing’s One Belt, One Road strategy.
“It is going to be interesting as it appears that China is willing to recognise the Taliban. It gives China an alternative route to the Indian Ocean as the two share a common border, but would not be making Pakistan happy,” commented Andre Wheeler, a Splash columnist and keen watcher of China’s Belt, Road Initiative.
Taliban insurgents entered Afghanistan’s capital Kabul over the weekend with president Ashraf Ghani leaving the country on Sunday.