India has reacted strongly to reports stating the possible inclusion of Afghanistan in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
New Delhi, in a statement on July 26, called a third country joining CPEC as “illegal, illegitimate and unacceptable”.
It has been reported that China and Pakistan have expressed their desire to include Afghanistan in the biggest joint infrastructure and economic project of the two countries in the region.
India considers the CPEC project a violation of its territorial integrity.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project is part of China's One Belt One Road project, which focuses on building infrastructure and macroeconomic activities, such as mining. The development of Gwadar port in Pakistan's Baluchistan is part of this ambitious and strategic Chinese project.
The move to expand CEPC to Afghanistan seems to be a part of China's plans to expand influence in the region. At the Tashkent conference on Tuesday, Yue Xiaoyong, Chinese Special Envoy for Afghanistan, supported the railway project between Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, which he said would "connect western China to Central Asia”.
India's objection to the CPEC project is not only because it expands the economic and political influence of the two traditional rivals of New Delhi, but also because CPEC is partially designed to be implemented in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, where India claims ownership in principle.
India's foreign ministry said in a statement that the country "firmly and consistently opposes projects in the so-called CPEC, which are in Indian territory that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan”.
India has also threatened to "treat accordingly" to economic activities in Kashmir.
This means that the Taliban will face a strong reaction from New Delhi if they want to join the CPEC project. The new development happens even as in recent months, the Taliban have sought diplomatic relations with India.