Beijing’ s Cat’s Paw 26 March 2015
China may improve relations with India, but not at Pakistan’s expense.
Is China’s alliance with Pakistan in trouble? Pakistan’s recently announced intention to invite Chinese President Xi Jinping as chief guest at their joint military services parade and subsequent postponement has encouraged some to see cracks in the relationship. Like periodic reports about China’s unhappiness with Pakistani militants’ role in training and arming Xinjiang;s jihadi Uighurs or Beijing’s supposed distancing itself from Islamabad on the issue of Kashmir, this more recent flurry is also much ado about very little. Pakistan’s security situation and President Xi’s busy calendar may delay his first visit more than Islamabad would like, but the Sino-Pak friendship is based on too long a history of strategic cooperation to be affected by minor irritants.
If china decides to develop formal alliances, Pakistan would be the first place we would turn. It may be the only place we could turn. This seemingly total trust in Pakistan is rooted in intimate and unwavering collaboration over decades from which both countries have benefited. It is also based, small writes, On China’s steady, long-term commitment to ensure that Pakistan has the capabilities it needs to play the role that China wants it to. Mao passed away shortly after meeting Zulfikar ali Bhutto and blessing nuclear cooperation with Islamabad. His funeral in September 1976 provided the occasion for AQ Khan, father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, to meet china’s top nuclear official in Beijing. Their secret collaboration has since enabled Pakistan to build an arsenal of warheads and long-range nuclear capable missiles. On the other hand Pakistani transfer of pilfered western know-how-from centrifuge design to US Tomahawk and stealth helicopter technology-has given China bility to leapfrog the West.
Pakistan has also benefited from China’s close collaboration with Washington against Moscow while helping china with its own contacts. Small notes that Kissinger joked with Chinese leaders that the best way to contain India’s ambitions was to arm Pakistan and Bangladesh with nuclear weapons. Like its earlier role in facilitating secret US and Chinese contacts leading to opening of relations, Pakistan’s privileged ties with Saudi Arabia (which at the time had no diplomatic relations with Beijing) enabled it to arrange secret meetings between Saudi and Chinese officials. It eventually culminated in the sale of Chinese long-range nuclear capability: warheads produced by Pakistan could presumably be made with Chinese-built Saudi missiles if Riyadh wished to do so. Ties between Beijing and Islamabad flourish in asymmetric warfare as well. Small shows that China was “intimately involved in Pakistan’s history of using irregular forces as an instrument of its military strategy. One of the two sides’ closest areas of tactical cooperation. That cooperation with Pakistan involved the supply of arms not only to the anti-Soviet mujahideen, but also to Naga, Mizo and assamese insurgents battling central rule by New Delhi. While brutally suppressing Uighhurs and urging Pakistan to do the same, China itself has maintained contacts with ihadi groups offering moneyand small arms in exchange for pledges not to target China or support Unighur separatists.
Today, facing a nascent alliance between India, the US and Japan, Beijing may indeed seek to improve relations with New Delhi, but this will not happen at the expense of its all-weather friend. Whether or not Xi Jinping attends a parade in Rawalpindi this year,Beijing alliance with Islamabad remains rock solid.
To Conclude China follow the “Principle” enemy’s enemy is the best friend
Grateful to Nayan Chanda