China-Pakistan alliance strengthened post-Osama

TENSIONS between the US and Pakistan over the killing of Osama bin Laden and a speedier US withdrawal from Afghanistan are likely to reinforce China and Pakistan’s already strong ties, analysts say.

When Chinese leaders welcome Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to Beijing this week, they will likely praise Sino-Pakistani ‘friendship’ over the past 60 years – a stark contrast to recent Western criticism of Islamabad.

Analysts say Mr Gilani’s visit starting on Tuesday will help Islamabad deflect mounting pressure from Washington and elsewhere, as Pakistan stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its long-time ally and neighbour.

‘China is the only country that has taken a sympathetic stand for Pakistan after the Osama operation,’ Talat Masood, a political analyst and retired Pakistani general, told AFP.

‘This visit is important in the sense that it could counter (US) pressure on Pakistan. It shows Pakistan wants to say we also have some cards to play.’ China has shown unswerving support for Pakistan since US special forces killed Osama at a compound near the country’s top military academy on May 2, sparking speculation that Islamabad may have known about his whereabouts.

Foreign ministry spokesman Jiang Yu pointed out a few days after the Al-Qaeda chief’s killing that Pakistan was nevertheless ‘at the forefront of the international counter-terrorism effort’. — AFP

China-Pakistan alliance strengthened post-Osama

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