China proves Pakistan’s trusted friend once again

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Salahuddin Haider

CHINA has done it again. It proved its commitment to Pakistan’s security, territorial integrity and solidarity beyond even iota of doubt. Its rejection of the of India’s desire to be at the Nuclear Suppliers Group at the latter’s recent meeting, and flatly refusing New Delhi’s request for cooperation during secret visit to Beijing by the Indian foreign secretary earlier this month submit incontrovertible evidence of that.
But this is not the first time that China has stood fearlessly by Pakistan’s side. History is replete with instances where the Asian giant, not only rescued Pakistan at the time of difficulties but stood rock-like with the latter at every forum and platform.
Ignoring advices in 60s from the Western which treated the then communist country as a taboo, Pakistan signed the border agreement with its biggest neighbor to face economic and military sanctions from America.
It however ignored that and during the 1965 war when second sanctions came for using American military equipment supplied under SEATO or Cento pacts, against India, the then President Ayub Khan hit back with solid argument in his autobiography “Friends, not Masters’ to defend Pakistan before the world opinion.
But records show that Sino- Pak ties date back to 1955 when the then Prime minister Husseyn Shaheed Shurawardy met the great Chinese leader Chou En-Lai in the Indonesian city of Bandung, and the two leaders looked keen to add new dimension to their bilateral ties.
Late Mr Bhutto, as foreign minister, and later as prime minister, did a lot to promote this relationship, but the foundations for cooperation was laid by the astute leader. Suhrawardy was the most articulate and brilliant statesman Pakistan had ever seen. He was a man of vision, and courage and conviction.
In mid-60s, Pakistan provided China a window to outside world by initiating airline communication when late Air Marshal Nur Khan led a formidable delegation on an inaugural flight of PIA to Beijing(then called Peking). Thus began a new chapter of a friendship which has often been hailed as “higher than Himalayas and deeper than ocean”. Time bore eloquent testimony that the description was a reality, not a cliché.
During the height of Indo-Pak war of 1965, the then Chinese defence minister Marshal Chen-Yi flew to Pakistan, setting aside precautions to his own security and caring little about hostility from mightiest of super powers to assure Pakistan of his country’s unstinted support by being in Karachi and holding a press conference at the private residence of 70-Clifton at the dead of night. Chen Yi warned India of dire consequences and had helped Pakistan militarily and several other means.
In Summer of 1971 when Pakistan was beset with severe internal problems because of the East Pakistan crisis, Islamabad served as bridge for mending of fences between America and China by arranging secret visit to Chinese capital of the then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
That visit was the top-most guarded secret of the world. None knew about that, till announcements were made from Washington and Beijing that (late) President Nixon will visit China.
The team of American journalists accompanying the US President’s visit to China, were overwhelmed by the Chinese desire to forge ahead and establish its place in the comity of nations. Their predictions came true as with the passage of time, China kept growing from strength to strength, and now standing as Asia’s mighty power, and an economic giant, which has begun to control the world economy.
But throughout this long period, not for once did China forget Pakistan, which in return kept its dearest friend always in mind, and shaped its foreign policy, making China its corner stone.
Some anxiety was expressed in the form of murmurs as thaw began to develop between India and China but Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, presiding the country’s destiny at that time, set at rest all speculations, saying that China’s friendship with India, will be added strength of Pakistan. China will advocate Pakistani cause and its viewpoint to the Indian leadership. His words turned out to be prophetic as the subsequent months and years have shown.
Today China is helping Pakistan replenish its air force with the manufacture of JF-7 Thunder combat aircraft, apart from agreeing to strengthen the Pakistan navy with new submarines and other equipment.
Political relationship has kept gaining from strength to strength irrespective of which regime was in power in Pakistan. Bhutto, Ziaul Haq, Musharraf, Benazir, Nawaz, Asif Zardari all have been to China to cement these ties. Similarly top level Chinese delegations at the level of heads of State and government, have kept Islamabad in the schedule of foreign visits. The political wavered not even for once, which is unprecedented in history of the world.
Latest of these was the visit to Pakistan of the Peoples Republic President Xi Jinping in April last year which saw opening of a shining chapter in the history of Sino-Pakistan relationship. The Chinese dignatory signed a number of agreements, biggest being US $ 46 billion for Pak-China Economic Corridor (CPEC). When completed it will be game-changer not only for China or Pakistan, but for the entire region.
Some suspicions lurked in the minds of not-too-farsighted class about the Chinese government’s signing of US 10 billion dollars agreement with India, but again when viewed in the context of CPEC, this is nothing.
China’s commitment to Pakistan’s solidarity, its territorial integrity and safeguarding of its interests, remains unwavering. It has stood the test of time, not once but on different occasions. China is a great country, a true, and all-weather friend of Pakistan.

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