Pak-China Fraternal Relations

Sehrish Khan

The fraternal relations between Pakistan and China are not news, nor is it something that will shock any person or country. It is a friendship based on decades and its maintenance is not conditional on any government as it is the friendship of the people with the people which is maintained by the governments of both the countries. China came into being a year after Pakistan but it has done what almost every country in the world can only wish for. China has lifted millions of people out of poverty, proving that if a person works hard, an individual changes, but if it is done collectively, a society or a country changes. In the case of China, the world has seen a poor country succeed in joining the list of the most powerful countries in the world in a few years.
After concluding ‘successful’ China visit, Prime Minister Imran Khan, along with a high-level delegation, returned to Pakistan. During his four-day visit, PM Imran Khan held important meetings with top Chinese leadership, the business community, signed several memoranda of understandings (MoUs), and attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics as a sign of solidarity with Beijing. PM Imran Khan shared his views with President Xi on growing polarization in the world which threatened to unravel global developmental gains and posed serious risks to the developing countries. The prime minister highlighted that atrocities being perpetrated in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK), and the persecution of minorities in India in advancing the Hindutva mindset of RSS-BJP was a threat to regional peace and stability. PM Imran Khan highlighted that partnership between Pakistan and China was an anchor for peace and stability in the region and thanked China for its unwavering support to Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and national development. The foreign ministers of both the countries discussed the evolving situation in the region and beyond, in particular the grave humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.
China has been watching the US administration continue to wall off Pakistan in the context of bilateral relations for the past one year since the administration of US President Biden. Pakistan is not a country that can be ignored. Geographical, religious and military status or power in South Asia distinguishes Pakistan from many other countries. The consequences of ignoring or walling off such a country are obvious. Let us mention some of the recent developments in the context of US-Pakistan relations that have given rise to the argument that the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Pakistan-China relations is a new development.
On September 14, 2021, US Secretary of State Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Pakistan has many interests, but there are also some interests that are in conflict with our (US) interests. According to him, that is why Pakistan is constantly setting its own conditions for the future of Afghanistan. These are, he said, the interests for which he is harboring members of the Taliban, as well as various points of cooperation with us (US) in the fight against terrorism. Then on October 8, a new and surprising thing came out of Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Delhi. He said that we, the United States, do not see broad-based relations being formed with Pakistan and the purpose of his visit to Pakistan is only the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and nothing else. So I am going to have some special talks and then he said that I will provide information about my visit to Pakistan to my friends in Delhi.
In addition, the Democracy Summit, hosted by US President Biden on December 9 and 10, 2021, further complicated Pak-US relations, as Prime Minister Imran Khan was kept in an extraordinary session on the one hand and participation was offered through a three-minute pre-recorded speech. Imran Khan and his advisers refused to attend the summit because they saw such an invitation as an expression of Washington’s pride and the humility of a country on which he had spent his two Afghan wars and August. In September, the United States relied on aid for a large-scale evacuation of Afghans. When a journalist asked Imran Khan to give the United States a possible military base against Afghanistan, he said “Absolutely not” and hurt the American ego so much that he has not been able to get out of this grief yet. Some of our own circles not only expressed displeasure over the remarks but also tried in vain to bring these shaky relations back on track.
And now we are in February 2022, the Prime Minister’s most important visit to China, included a number of sideline meetings, as well as a definite meeting with President Xi Jinping. Is this visit considered so important because the US did not treat Pakistan well? Is that why there is talk of China-Pakistan relations reaching new heights? The answer to this question should definitely be “No” because Pakistan already has very good relations with China and on more than one occasion Prime Minister Imran Khan also said that our future of Pakistan is connected with China. Both Pakistan and China are engaged in the strategic relationship of CPEC which they can now take to a new level through close cooperation. The British-era mentality, such as a host of administrative hurdles, multiple layers of approvals and an anti-China lobby within the system, has worked to thwart or slow down projects wherever possible. Beijing’s history certainly provides an opportunity for both countries to examine their respective strengths and weaknesses in order to help each other in the face of geopolitical divisions around the world.