New Delhi alarmed by Sino-Pak strategic relationship

Ashraf Javed.

As relations between Washington and Islamabad continue to slide down from bad to worse followed by a spat of suggestions, warnings and ultimatums by the high-ranking US officials, the supportive statements by China in favour of Pakistan’s sovereignty gave some respite to the current dispensation in this country.

If one were to read between the lines, what the Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Meng Jianzhou, during his recent visit to Islamabad, had meant was that his country would not allow the US to pressurise Islamabad to undertake Army operation against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan.

Unfortunately, Pakistan’s all-weather and time-tested ties with China are being systematically attacked to the point that Pakistan may no longer falls back on Beijing’s support in case of any eventuality.

Some of the developments which need examination are as under: The first place of target was Xinjiang (Sinkiang) province of the People’s Republic of China that borders Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

China developed Xinjiang as a hub of economic activities in the region.

There are two main ethnic groups in the region: Uighurs, who are Muslims and Han is Chinese.

The Uighurs are the majority in southwestern Xinjiang, including the prefectures of Kashgar, Khotan, Kizilsu, and Aksu (about 80 per cent of Xinjiang’s Uighurs live in those four prefectures).

Han Chinese are the majority in eastern and northern Xinjiang (Dzungaria), including the cities of Urumqi, Karamay, and Shihezi. The violent incidents in Xinjiang are homegrown and related to Uighur grievances against Han Chinese.

The July 30-31 coordinated Kashgar attacks on pedestrians at dining areas frequented by Han Chinese, were trickily associated with Pakistani-trained Uighur terrorists from the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

However, one way to assess violent incidents in Xinjiang is to look at the method of attack, the timing, the attackers identities, and whether any group claimed responsibility.

Pakistan-China friendship is seen by India as a source of threat to its hegemonic intentions ,therefore, they leave no opportunity in creating a wedge between the two neighbouring countries.

The rioters in Kashgar and Hotan were intentionally linked to Pakistan. While analyzing the visit of Chinese Deputy Premier to Pakistan, some Indian TV anchors commented that the visit was to warn Islamabad over the terrorists being trained in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas.

Such negative opinion is totally uncalled for and not based on facts.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik has vowed to attack and pursue Uighur militants who operate in China’s Western province of Xinjiang and are supported by al Qaeda elements in Afghanistan.

Second, India is sensationalising a trivial issue involving Chinese assistance to Pakistan in upgradation and expansion of Karakoram Highway (KKH).

The Karakoram Highway is the lifeline that connects Gilgit-Baltistan from Kashgar, a city in the Xingjiang region of China, to Abbotabad. An extension of the highway south west from Abbottabad, in the form of N-35, meets the Grand Trunk Road, N-5 at Hassanabdal Pakistan that would finally link to the southern port of Gwadar in Balochistan through Gwadar-Dalbandin Railway.

Chinese engineers and builders are in Gilgit-Baltistan region to help repair the Karakoram corridor which has been severely damaged by the earthquakes, floods and landslides. Actually, the KKH trade route agreement has alarmed many powerful economies.

The US viewed the highway project as alarming because Washington does not like Chinese working on developments in Pakistan. India considered it as a dangerous development for its security. The Kashgar-Gwadar trade route affected the trade and economic interest of neighboring states of the region. Therefore, the theme of Chinese troops presence in GB has been blown out of proportion so as to deny Chinese access to Karakoram corridor.

Indian strategists consider that infrastructural improvements of the ‘Karakoram Corridor’ heralds a new phase of China flexing its muscles not only against India but more significantly against US in the wider global context.

India’s propaganda regarding ceding of the Gilgit-Baltistan Region to China is a devious ploy to politically implant US against Pakistan that it is no longer a frontline state of US strategy. All this is aimed at undermining the strategic relationship between the two countries.

China and Pakistan have achieved fruitful results in military and defence cooperation. Through joint efforts, the two countries have successfully developed hi-tech military equipment such as K-8 jet trainers, type 2000 main battle tanks and the Xiaolong fighter jet. In May 2011, China agreed to provide 50 new JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter planes to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) with the possibility of J-20 Stealth and Xiaolong multi-purpose light fighter aircraft in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, the two navies and land forces have respectively launched maritime and anti-terrorism joint military manoeuvers.

During the past 55 years, trade between the two countries has continued to increase. Since 2000, bilateral trade has risen rapidly, with the volume exceeding $4.2 billion last year, setting a new record.

In the near future, more Pakistanis will master the Chinese language and become China experts. When an earthquake hit the northern part of Pakistan in 2005, China contributed $20.5 million for earthquake relief.

The leadership, governments and people of the two countries are determined to further reinforce bonds of friendship and close cooperation.

They are both interested in promoting peace and stability of the region and the world.

New Delhi alarmed by Sino-Pak strategic relationship | Pakistan | News | Newspaper | Daily | English | Online

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