The Pakistan-China saga

Islamabad has at least gotten some relief from China in a week marred by controversy.

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Published: Tue 21 Dec 2010, 9:36 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:36 PM

For one, China has praised Pakistan’s role in counterterrorism and refrained from airing any negative views on its dealings or lack of, with Xinjiang separatists that are allegedly in arms with some terrorist groups in the tribal areas. It must surely come as a welcome departure from the constant criticism levelled against the intelligence and security establishment by Pakistan’s critical ally, the United States. Even the recent US annual Review on Afghanistan shifts the focus on Pakistan as the major impediment to achieving the desired level of success in the war.

However, the visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo while addressing the Parliament in Islamabad had a different take on the situation. Jiabo appreciated Pakistan’s sacrifices in counter-terrorism and acknowledged its instrumental role in halting the proliferation of terror. Further, he called on the international community to do more to help Pakistan fight militancy. The significance of China’s very vocal support of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts cannot be underestimated. Jiabo is coming from India where he signed agreements aimed at boosting bilateral trade to a staggering $100 billion by 2015. New Delhi remains wary of Pakistan’s long-standing and very close relations with China, especially in the strategic arena. India is also cognisant of the continuing territorial tensions with Beijing that remain a worrisome factor despite the improvement in economic relations. While China was obviously keen on boosting its relations with India, it chosenot to do so at the expense of Pakistan. Unlike other visiting western heads of states including French President Nicholas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, China refrained from levelling any sort of criticism against Pakistan from New Delhi. Wen Jiabo’s visit also brings a hard hit Pakistan welcome economic relief At least 35 agreements and Memorandum of Understanding signed during the visit are aimed at generating $ 25-35 billions in investment over the next five years. Moreover, the emphasis on boosting social and cultural ties is important. A dedicated Pakistan-China Friendship Center has been inaugurated to mark the new phase of relations. Besides, the coming year has been declared as the Pakistan-China Friendship year with a number of cultural exchanges to mark the 60th anniversary of ties.

In short, the Chinese Premier brought Pakistan much needed succour. It is hoped that Pakistan is able to address the concerns of its neighbours and other allies in the field of counter-terrorism and improve its governance to stabilise its economy by implementing measures that prove its sincerity and intent. It must also think hard of the danger it faces in following a policy that neglects the treating of festering wounds at home.

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