South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

Pakistan China Relations
Alam Rind

A lot has been written about Pakistan-China relation after Abbottabad incident to which Pakistan had reacted fiercely. From Pakistanís point of view, unilateral action by US forces in Pakistani territory was tantamount to betrayal.

After all Pakistan had been an ally in war on terror, had cooperated most ardently to combat AI-Qaeda and Taliban and in the process had suffered the most in terms loss of life and property. Yet, if Americans were not sure of Pakistanís sincerity and opted not to share the information on the conjecture that it would have been leaked out that certainly hurts. People of Pakistan were infuriated because of the breach of the sovereignty of their country and not for the love of Osama bin Laden. In that hour of distress China stood by Pakistan. Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilaniís visited China from May 17 to 21, 2011. Chinese whole heartedly supported Pakistan and cautioned USA to refrain from accelerating the situation. This gesture of Chinese support for Pakistan was interpreted as a sign of progressive breakaway between Pakistan and U.S. Of late print media was flooded by the articles suggesting that China canít and wonít help Pakistan against USA.
Once we talk of Chinese support vis-ŗ-vis USA we are talking of extreme situations. That could be sanctions or even worst, American boots on Pakistani soil. Such extreme steps are quite unlikely in the near future. The Americans need Pakistan to sustain them in Afghanistan and to lower the tempo of conflict within the country. That would create conducive environment for them to project success and to maintain long term presence in the region by occupying a noddle point on the great game chessboard. Nipped by the recession, Americanís without loss of time want to reduce their troops to an economically sustainable level in Afghanistan. On the other end, there is no respite in attacks by Afghan Taliban on US and NATO facilities making it highly questionable that Americans would be able to sustain themselves in such hostile environment with reduced strength. That wide opens the possibility of a complete reversal. To cover up this failing, Pakistan is often blamed for not taking action against supposed Taliban hideouts in its border region. Americans are in catch-22 situation. Due to public disapproval and economic reasons they cannot afford to expand war and neither is able to wind it up as a victorious force.
The notion that China wonít support Pakistan is built around the argument that she has strong economic relations with USA and India, which she ill affords to jeopardize. That is a statement of fact, but in spite of these odds she supported Pakistan after Abbattobad incident, and is investing heavily in the country. What else is support? At the core of this debate is something else. Pakistan and Pakistanis draw strength from Chinese and thus more fervidly resist unreasonable American demands. Such a mind-set can make the job of Americans in the region difficult. So a campaign to make Pakistan realize that Chinese help wonít come has been launched. Though the worst case scenario threatening Pakistanís sovereignty is least likely but if such a situation arises the whole dynamics of interstate relations will change.
At the first place Pakistan has well-trained Armed Forces which are capable of warding off enemy aggression. On top of it, itís a nuclear weapon state having credible delivery means, adding credence to its nuclear deterrence. Nuclearisation of the country in itself symbolizes nations will to guard its independent. People of the country are hardy and have unlimited potential to endure adversity. With all these capabilities Pakistan in its own rights wonít prove to be an easy military target. Aggression against Pakistan would mean redrawing the chessboard rather than playing on the existing one. That would be hard to swallow. With Indo-US strategic partnership in place, undoing Pakistan would mean that the total control of global hydrocarbon resources will pass on to Americans. China and Russia will have to reconcile as subordinate starts for centuries to come. The dynamics of interstate relations will change. To guard her interests thereís all the likely hood that China politically, economically and militarily will support Pakistan to prevent its collapse.
It is natural that we look towards our friends in the time of need but the best proposition would be to develop indigenous capabilities. Pakistan is endowed with the best of resources in terms of fertile land, abundance of natural resources and the best of human capital. Instead of getting absorbed by the current events we must invest to realize our full potential. If we are strong from within it will be easier to counter external threats. As a nation we do respect support from our friends but must depend upon our own capabilities with unflinching faith in God.