Sweeter than Honey

Southasia - - Front page - By Rizwan Zeb

Pak­istan and China are cel­e­brat­ing 2011 as a year of friend­ship to mark the 60th year of the es­tab­lish­ment of diplo­matic re­la­tions. Pak­istan-China friend­ship, which is de­scribed by the lead­er­ship of both coun­tries as higher than the moun­tains, deeper than the oceans, and of late, sweeter than honey, is a unique case in the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem we are liv­ing in. Although it is not a re­la­tion­ship based on love, as many would like us to be­lieve, but rather on sound geopo­lit­i­cal and re­al­is­tic con­sid­er­a­tions, it is unique in a num­ber of ways, though its con­ti­nu­ity can’t be taken as given. Would Is­lam­abad and Bei­jing ever lose warmth in their re­la­tion­ship? In keep­ing with a num­ber of de­vel­op­ments at re­gional and in­ter­na­tional lev­els, are there any chal­lenges which both need to ad­dress to make this friend­ship stronger? Or, in sim­pler words, what lies ahead for Is­lam­abad and Bei­jing?

Re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries were es­tab­lished in the 1950s when Pak­istan de­cided to rec­og­nize the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China. The re­la­tion­ship strength­ened in the late 50s and 60s and since then, both coun­tries have co­op­er­ated and sup­ported each other on var­i­ous fo­rums. China ended Pak­istan’s search for a balancer in its re­la­tions with In­dia. Both coun­tries ex­change high-level vis­its reg­u­larly and have signed a num­ber of pacts and agree­ments. China pro­vides Pak­istan with eco­nomic, mil­i­tary and tech­ni­cal aid and as­sis­tance and, on its part, Pak­istan sup­ports China on is­sues of Ti­bet, Xin­jiang and hu­man rights, etc. Pak­istan played a piv­otal role in bring­ing U.S. and China to­gether and ar­ranged Henry Kissinger’s se­cret visit to soften ground for U.S. Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon’s his­toric visit to China. Pak­istan also sup­ported and as­sisted China in es­tab­lish­ing con­tacts with the Mus­lim world.

Pak­istan and China are col­lab­o­rat­ing in a num­ber of sec­tors, es­pe­cially de­fense, trade, en­ergy and de­vel­op­ment. Since the 1960s, China has been the most im­por­tant sup­plier of mil­i­tary equip­ment to Pak­istan. The JF17 Thun­der is a mark of this de­fense co­op­er­a­tion. China has also helped Pak­istan in es­tab­lish­ing new and im­proved ex­ist­ing am­mu­ni­tion fac­to­ries. Eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship be­tween both coun­tries is im­prov­ing and they signed a free trade agree­ment few years back.

China has in­vested in a num­ber of projects in Pak­istan, mostly re­lated to en­ergy pro­duc­tion, build­ing roads, gold and cop­per mines, etc. The most im­por­tant and com­monly known joint project is the deep-sea port at Gwadar. Ac­cord­ing to one Cen­tre for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies (CSIS) re­port, “the com­plex, in­au­gu­rated in De­cem­ber 2008 and now fully oper­a­tional, pro­vides a deep-sea port, ware­houses, and in­dus­trial fa­cil­i­ties for more than twenty coun­tries. China pro­vided much of the tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance and 80 per­cent of the funds for con­struc­tion of the port. In re­turn for pro­vid­ing most of the la­bor and capi-

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