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Pak-China strategic partnership

Dr Nasreen Akhtar
IN 1987, China concluded a deal to sell M-11 missiles and launchers to Pakistan. Consequently, the US imposed sanctions against both China and Pakistan. Today Pakistan has developed its missile technology. Let us not forget that China faced sanctions for Pakistan. We should not forget that China has been supporting Pakistan since 1950s. If we look at the history, very few relationships between the two states have been as consistent and enduing as the relations between China and Pakistan. The sentiments often expressed by the leadership of these states do not capture the significance of this unique and true partnership. It is deep, profound and covers many areas of mutual interests, including defence and economy. It was started when Pakistan needed strong friends in the world. This partnership is not new, it started in early 1950s. Interestingly, Pakistan had the best of ties with the United States (SEATO-CENTO). The United States was politically attached with Pakistan and other Asian and European states to contain China, despite the fact and reality China did not stop working with Pakistan and continue its relations. It is true that “Pakistan was a party to a military treaty but Pakistan was not against China and Pakistan had no fear that China would commit aggression against her. Pakistan assured China that if the United States takes aggressive actions under the military treaty or if the Unites States launched a global war, Pakistan would not be involved in it just as it was not involved in Korean War” and Pakistan kept its words and became the trustworthy friend of China.
In international politics mainly cooperation and trust work and shape the relationship between the states. Thus two aspects framed the future of Pakistan-China strategic partnership; first the 1963 boundary agreement was a benchmark between the Communist and Islamic States. This agreement, in fact, was the foundation which eventually strengthened strategic ties; and the second factor is the cooperation in defence following the war with India in 1962, in the war China emerged as a regional power and India was humiliated. These were important steps in the atmosphere of the Cold War when the US and the {erstwhile} Soviet Union both had rivalry with China. In South Asia region Pakistan was the only state that stood by China. China is the state which has always been important to all in Pakistan; be the people or the civil-military leadership. All Pakistani regimes and policy makers always have realized the significance of this friendship and partnership and they continued to build on further where the previous governments had left. Internally political parties have grievances and rifts but when the China factor comes, there is no second opinion at state level by the stake-holders, however, all parties have consensus when the “Pakistan-China partnership comes under discussion. This true friendship and partnership can be defined as “mutual benefits”, mutual respect. They always respect their words and never exploit in the name of ‘interest’ in global world.
Mutual respect and trust is, in fact, the foundation of every friendship, strategic partnership and bilateral relationship in this world, which does not believe in trust or mutual respect, but Pakistan-China partnership has set an example in the world politics that the element of respect and mutual benefits is the guarantee of longstanding and permanent partnership. We know that relationship between the states ever rests on sentiments, ideology. Even religion factor has been ruled out. Durable relations are based on common interest and mutual respect that strengthen close ties, whereas conflict or divergence of interest creates distance and distrust between the states or business parties. All states are not equal and powerful in the world. Thus “ in bilateral relationship distributive effect may not be measured in equal terms, as one state may have benefits in one particular area of its national interest whereas the other would not”. In outlook, relations are supportive and harmonious. These elements have explained the extensive strategic ties between China and Pakistan. Pakistan is blessed with natural geographical location and human resource but poorly managed by the rulers. Poor planning and lack of wisdom promoted poverty and corruption; mainly economic sector has been neglected by the successive governments. As far as China is concerned it is rich – overloaded with surplus values (cash), technology and multinational corporations that is keen to invest in Pakistan. And Pakistan is suitable for them for not only because of its geography also its commitment and confidence. China, in reality, is rising in the world economically. In Pakistan’s history no state has signed multiple agreements with huge capital. This is China which brings golden opportunity for Pakistan to exploit its internal recourses – natural and human both.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has become actual changer that would change the fate and the game in South Asian region. CPEC is a life time project which has strengthened Pakistan-China partnership. Several economic zones within Pakistan have provided opportunity to the local people. CPEC has surprised and alarmed the world forces – the United States. The Unites States and India both have concerns i.e. China’s rise in the region and the world. Because of China, Gwadar deep seaport has become international juncture and the people of Pakistan and the world will benefit. Development at Gwadar, certainly, will bring prosperity to Pakistan. Gwadar port will be changing Pakistan’s economy. We must understand that China has developed true strategic partnership with Pakistan and has annoyed many regional and global actors. On the other hand Pakistan also never disappointed China and it continues its old relations in the new complex world.
—The writer is Assistant Professor, IIUI, Islamabad.