China, an ‘all-weather friend’China, an ‘all-weather friend’
In a very short time, the prime minister of Pakistan made a third visit to China. It was mainly to mend relations with the second most powerful country in the world that has huge investments in Pakistan. With the change of guard in Islamabad, there was a shift in focus from Beijing to Washington for strategic reasons but that had come at a cost to the economy. The CPEC related projects that were launched with lightning speed during the PMLN government were thrown at the back burner. There was little headway on the phase-II of the CPEC. This was in part necessitated by the IMF dictates as well that Pakistan was forced to heed ahead of the bailout package.
The stalemate, so to speak, was acceptable until India took unilateral action in held Kashmir and revoked an article of its constitution that gave special status to the valley. Pakistan needed support at the international forums including the UN Security Council and China seized the opportunity to offer the much needed support and in the process regain the momentum for the almost stalled projects in Pakistan. During the Security Council’s meeting China was the only permanent member that supported Pakistan’s position. Partly due to its own stance on Laddakh, it issued strong statement against the Indian move after August 5.
Now that president Xi is scheduled to visit India for an informal summit with PM Modi the statement on Kashmir and China’s unwavering support for Pakistan’s core interests should be considered a great diplomatic achievement for Pakistan. The statement was not lost on India and its minister has reminded China to not interfere in its internal affairs.
In the light of abysmal economic situation, this news that CPEC projects are back on track and the establishment of CPEC Authority through a presidential decree on the same day as the PM landed in China should signal Islamabad’s renewed interest in Chinese investments. It is hoped that the authority shall not become another bureaucratic hurdle in the way of development and rather shall be a help in removing the bottlenecks. The euphemistic expression of ‘all-weather friendship’ between the two neighbours is in fact a transactional relationship that is in the best interest of both the countries. Pakistan should never lose sight of this advantageous position that it has vis-a vis China and should look to optimally capitalize on it.