The US And Pakistan-China Matrix – OpEd


Prime Minister Imran Khan’s second visit to the United States to attend the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly unveiled a new debate within the international community regarding Pakistan administration’s tilt towards the United States.

The visit became the focal point of discussion when a United States’ senior official made a statement regarding Washington nascent concern to have high-level engagement and to rebuild ties with Islamabad. It was to be believe that the Pakistani Prime Minister would definitely welcome such offers because the county needs close ties with the United States to overcome the economic deficit through International Monitory Fund’s periodic aid and to gain more support of big powers on the matter of ongoing tensions with India on the issue of Kashmir. On which, the political analysts and general community within Pakistan, developed a hypothesis that Pakistan such move will not only affect the China-Pakistan joint economic venture entitled ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’, but it also destabilizes the equilibrium of Pakistan-China relations.

Before forecasting anything regarding the future of China-Pakistan relations, one needs to understand the dynamics of these relations. Predominantly, China and Pakistan’s relations are based on economic cooperation, defences cooperation, nuclear cooperation and cultural ties, and both countries are also determined to work jointly for regional peace and stability. Both, Pakistan and China exemplify their ties with various terms and phrases like ‘all-weather friends’, ‘iron brothers’, ‘time-tested, ‘deeper than the oceans and higher than the Himalayas. sweeter than honey’, and lately, as ‘strategic and stronger than steel’.

Beside it, China is also tirelessly supporting Pakistan to curb the menace of terrorism within the country and in the region. To align Pakistan on the rail of prosperity and innovation, China hosts a large number of Pakistani students and researcher with diverse scholarships each year. Both countries, China and Pakistan always support each other’s stance either it is to be made on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s meetings or United Nation’s general assembly session for mutual prosperity. Both countries design their intra-regional and inter-regional policies by keeping in views the challenges and opportunities for the other. Today, it is due to shared prosperity that Pakistan is going to be a bridge between China and Middle East through CPEC. In the age of Globalization, due to increasing number of people to people linkages, China and Pakistan relationship entered into the phase of complex interdependence that makes utter impossible for one to weaken its ties the with other. 

Throughout the journey from ‘Potential Stakeholder’ to ‘Global Competitor’, China and the United States’ intention for each other changed vividly over the past few decades. Although, once China was a de facto partner of the United States during the cold war, now it is being taken as economic competitor by the United States.

China is also being perceived as a severe challenge for the United States’ policies for the world, particularly the South Asian region. Due to Pakistan’s strategical geographical proximity, both counties, China and United States have deep interest in strengthening the ties with Pakistan. Islamabad always tries to maintain a balanced approach in relations with Beijing and Washington, even it played a pivotal role in Sino-US rapprochement during early 1970s by arranging US secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s visit to Beijing, resulted in the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two countries.

China also fully supported the United States to put Union of Soviet Socialist Republic out of Afghanistan in the last few years of Cold War. The political analyst claims that China also hiddenly backed Pakistan’s decision to join hand with the United States in the War on Terror- in which Pakistan bear a heavy loss in terms of country’s economy, peace, security and stability. Despite of declaring economic aid given to Pakistan as dead investment by President Donald Trump as he tweeted ‘The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies’, the United States always looks towards Pakistan to have peace in Afghanistan as it cannot be achieved without the active role of latter in the peace process. That’s is why the Trump Administration is looking for fresh ties with Pakistan, Today, Peace in Afghanistan has become the central concern for China, US and Pakistan. So, Pakistan improving ties with the United States can help China and the United States to work together for peace and stability not only in Afghanistan but in whole region. 

Recently, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s responsive statement ‘Pakistan does not agree with the opinion of Alice Wells. It’s her personal opinion and it doesn’t make any difference’ to Alice Wells’ claim knocked out all the fears and misconceptions regarding CPEC. The Pakistani administration understands different tactics to have a balance in reactions with two big powers. As history repeats itself, Pakistan’s growing ties would energize the China-US ties as it would have the potential to settle the various disagreements between the two counties which would beneficial for global development.

*Bilal Habib Qazi is graduate research assistant at COMSATS University Islamabad, and a freelance writer with keen interest in international cooperation and development. He can be reached at [email protected]

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