As ties between Washington and Islamabad reach one of their lowest points in over a decade, Pakistan’s top diplomat is on a trip to Beijing from Thursday (today) to shore up cooperation and support from one of the country’s oldest allies.
Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir is visiting China for discussions with the Chinese leadership on bilateral, regional and international issues on April 28 and 29, said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
“The foreign secretary will hold consultations with Chinese Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun,” said Tehmina Janjua in a statement issued in Islamabad on Wednesday. The visit is in the context of the established Pakistan-China strategic dialogue mechanism between the two foreign ministries.
But official sources confirmed that the foreign secretary’s visit to China was prompted by the recent rise in tensions between Pakistan and the United States due to a series of events, including the Raymond Davis affair and US a drone strike that killed dozens of civilians in Pakistan’s tribal districts.
“Under these circumstances, the foreign secretary’s visit to China has assumed greater significance,” said one foreign office official who wished to remain anonymous. “We have excellent relations with China but the time has come to take the ties to the next level where we should have less reliance on the Americans.”
Bashir’s visit to Beijing comes days after he dashed to Washington in an effort to overcome differences that have the potential to unravel ties between Pakistan and the United States and consequently impeding progress in Afghanistan.
Sources say Salman Bashir is strong advocate of seeking realignments, and has presented a detailed analysis to the government regarding a reduction in dependence on the US by reaching out to the Chinese.