News / Asia

Reeling After Osama, Pakistan Turns to Longtime Friend China

In this picture released by the Pakistan Navy, warships, including those from China, are welcomed at the Karachi dock to take part in the Multi-National Naval exercises 'AMAN 07' in Karachi, Pakistan (FILE).
In this picture released by the Pakistan Navy, warships, including those from China, are welcomed at the Karachi dock to take part in the Multi-National Naval exercises 'AMAN 07' in Karachi, Pakistan (FILE).

Multimedia

Audio
  • VOA's JulieAnn McKellogg's interview on Pakistan-China relations

Anti-terror allies Pakistan and the United States are struggling to mend their often uncomfortable relationship which has been strained by the secret U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottatad, Pakistan.  

Now, it appears Pakistan is looking to its northern neighbor, China, for support.

On Tuesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Gilani kicked off a four-day visit there, describing Beijing as Islamabad's "best and most trusted friend."  He also pointed out that China was the first country to show its solidarity with Pakistan after the killing of bin Laden.  

Mr. Gilani's trip was scheduled weeks ago to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Pakistan and China have always been close, says Dr. Ehtisham Ahmad, a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics' Asia Research Center. He explained why in an interview VOA's JulieAnn McKellogg.

"Initially, Pakistan was China’s sort of lifeline, and thee eyes and ears to the rest of the world. And they facilitated the break through with the Kissinger visit and then, the Nixon visit in the early 1970s. So they played a major role in the normalization of the relationship with the West and the United States, in particular. This relationship has been changing over time. It’s sort of cooled down a bit.

Listen to the interview with Dr. Ahmad here

I think it’s been revived in recent years as China has taken a more dominant economic role, and sees how Pakistan is not only an opening to the Middle East, providing access to the Port of Gauthier in particular, but also as a bulwark against perhaps India. And on Pakistan side, it has been a very close relationship and they have relied on the Chinese for technical assistance as well as financial support in times of crisis. Tey do see the Chinese perhaps as an ‘all-weather friend.'”

What does this mean for the United States, especially in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden?

"'Tthere is no way that China will supplant the United States despite the trust deficit, which now exists in the Pakistan-U.S. relationship, which is quite understandable. The United States is a major both military and economic purveyor of support to Pakistan, and I don’t think the Chinese can fully fill that role though the Pakistan government is obviously trying look to shore up its bases of support in the event that there is a complete breakdown in its relationship with the United States. I really don’t think it will come to that because the United States needs Pakistan and Pakistan needs the United States. It’s a marriage of convenience, in a sense. [Pakistani President Asif Ali] Zadari went to Moscow immediately following the bin Laden event. And now the prime minister is going to China. So they are really trying to see the alternative areas of support."

The U.S. and Pakistan have such a strong military relationship, but what about China and Pakistan? China has supplied weapons to Pakistan, and they also have a nuclear relationship.

"Yes, I believe that is the case. And the Chinese have seen Pakistan as sort of counterweight to other powers. I mean, the United States, India.  And there is no territorial dispute. I think Pakistan is the one country in the vicinity of China that they can totally rely on. So you they have sort of dubious relations with a number of there other neighbors: Koreans, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indians. They do see Pakistan as an opening to a very important part of the world, which is an opening to the oil-rich region of the Middle East. I would say it’s strategic convenience. You can think of it like a big aircraft carrier stationed in the Middle East."

What makes them so reliable?


"I think it’s a confluence of interests. They have got no sources of friction and they both need each other. I think if the United States' relationship is a marriage of convenience, this is one where they both want to cohabit in a sense. So, it’s both economic and military and strategic for both."

What does this mean for India? They are another key player. And the United States and India continue to strengthen their relationship.

"And the consequence of that is that China and Pakistan have strengthened their relationship, which had cooled down, you know, a few years ago when China started normalizing its relationship with India. I think in the long run, Pakistan needs to think about burying the hatchet with India. Sort of in the way China has with Taiwan. They had more fundamental disagreements with Taiwan, but the economic relations between China and Taiwan are actually rather good. Whereas Pakistan’s dispute with India is sort of over the line of control in Kashmir, which is trivial in comparison with the dispute between China and Taiwan; and yet, they are stuck in 1947, and the economic ties are nonexistent between India and Paksitan. I think in the long run, it’s in Pakistan’s interest to forge a better relationship with India."

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid