China proves Pak­istan’s trusted friend once again


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 Si­noPak ties date back to 1955 when the then Prime min­is­ter Husseyn Sha­heed Shu­rawardy met the great Chi­nese leader Chou En­Lai 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 In­doPak 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 gamechanger 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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