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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid