By Sajjad Shaukat
During Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardar’s recent visit to Beijing, Pakistan and China reaffirmed to strengthen strategic ties and took concrete measures to further bring their people closer.
Both the two countries signed six deals of cooperation in the areas of agriculture, healthcare, justice, media, economy and technology. Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Asif Ali Zardari, while witnessing the signing of the deals have made strategic incentives and alliances even stronger than they were before. On trade cooperation, Jintao said that China would explore new ways to cooperate as well as cement cooperation between the two countries in areas such as energy, transportation, telecommunication, infrastructure and agriculture. Beijing also pledged to provide a grant of 7.3 million dollars to Pakistan for new development projects.
During the two-hour-long talks before the signing ceremony, Jintao and Zardari also vowed to fight the three forces of extremism, separatism and terrorism jointly.
“China is a friend and a strategic partner, committed to the promotion of stability and economic progress of Pakistan” is how Jintao summed up the strategic relations.
However, the two leaders discussed a host of issues relating to strategic partnership. The most prominent area of this bolstering of ties � especially for the world is the Sino-Pak civilian nuclear deal which is now beginning to see complete formalisation and initiation. It is unfortunate that the US has expressed its concerns about this deal, where the main goal is to address the acute power crisis in Pakistan. While rejecting US objections, China has once again clarified that it will supply two nuclear reactors to Pakistan under the old nuclear deal.
As regards the legitimacy of Pak-China nuclear deal, Qin Gang, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry has already made it clear, saying: “the nuclear cooperation between the two countries is for peaceful purposes and is totally in consistent with its international obligations and safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA).”
It is also regrettable that, until now, we have been denied the same right to civil nuclear technology that India was granted by the US in 2008. It provides the precedent, and in fact, has opened the door for any similar sort of nuclear deal in the future. Indeed, after setting precedent by themselves, both India and the US have no legal and moral grounds to challenge the legality of the Pak-China nuclear deal. It is rather ironic that the ‘original sinner’ was granted a waiver for its transgressions, as India used its civil nuclear technology for the development of nuclear weapons first, igniting the nuclear arms race in South Asia.
When Pak-China nuclear deal was initiated in 1986, China was not a part of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) nor had it signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which it did so in 1992 and joined the NSG in 2004. As long as the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards are not being violated, suspicions are unjustified. Nevertheless, despite international pressures, both Beijing and Islamabad are determined to go ahead in relation to nuclear cooperation and are working towards sustained development in Pakistan. Given the worsening energy crisis in our country and the problems in this area, the fact that China is set to export nuclear reactors is a hugely positive step towards addressing the energy shortage.
China and Pakistan plan on building a rail link, which would pass through Gilgit-Baltistan near the Karakoram Highway. This has sparked a debate in India. In this regard, Indian Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said, “It is definitely a matter of concern.”
Notably, despite showing more cooperation with our country, the main aim of the US including its allies like India and Israel remains to de-nuclearise Pakistan. Moreover, ideal geo-strategic location of our country with the Gwader port, linking Central and South Asia entailing Islamabad’s close ties with China pinches the eyes of US, India and Israel which are in collusion to destabilise Pakistan for their common interests.
It is owing to these reasons that Pakistan, its army and intelligence agency, ISI have become special target of the external plot, even under the Obama Administration. Availing the opportunity of the western propaganda, CIA, RAW and Mossad have also increased their secret activities against Pakistan by supporting the insurgents of Balochistan.
It is mentionable that the US intends to control Balochistan as an independent state in counterbalancing China and containing Iran. Therefore, America and India are creating instability in Pakistan by backing Baloch separatists to complete their hidden agenda.
There is a CIA and Indian-supported separatist group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which is also working against the cordial relationship of Pakistan with China and Iran. In the past few years, its militants with the cooperation of foreign agents kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan. In that context, on April 18, 2008, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi vocally pointed out, “Some external forces are trying to weaken China-Pakistan strategic ties” by “creating misunderstandings”.
Plot by foreign elements against Balochistan and China could also be judged from the “Indian Defence Review,” of Jan-Mar 2009. The Review, while suggesting the disintegration of Pakistan, wrote that for New Delhi, “this opens a window of opportunity to ensure that the Gwadar port does not fall into the hand of China. Afghanistan will gain stability…India’s access to Central Asian energy routes will open up.”
It is worthmentioning that the revelations of Israel’s ambassador to India, Mark Sofer during his interview to the Indian weekly Outlook as published on February 18, 2008 had surprised Pakistan, China and the Middle. On a question regarding India’s defence arrangements with Israel, Sofer while indicating two identical situations, disclosed “We do have a defence relationship with India, which is no secret. On the other hand, what is secret is the defence relationship”. And “with all due respect, the secret part will remain a secret.”
Nevertheless, external plot against Balochistan is part of the conspiracy against Pakistan and China�not tolerated by the US, India and Israel which have been trying to virtually besiege particularly our country as noted through a perennial wave of suicide attacks and bomb blasts. In this respect, by covertly backing the Baloch nationalist leaders, foreign elements have been fulfilling a number of covert designs.
Nonetheless, it needs to be reminded that China is one of the few countries that has always remained Pakistan’s strong ally, one that has never failed in coming to our aid. In the new world order where the US is evidently siding with India as a counterweight to China’s rapid economic expansion and growing power, Pakistan is China’s most dependable friend. President Zardari’s trip is a reinforcement of the deep and long lasting ties both countries have always enjoyed. In the face of international doubt and pressure, it has been these two allies which have always stood by each other. There is no doubt that China is ever-supportive ally. Both the countries are making efforts to further strengthen their relationship and enhance strategic ties.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org