Arsalan Pervez

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DEVELOPING AND MAINTAINING STRATEGIC RELATIONS BETWEEN PAKISTAN AND CHINA - ADVANTAGES AND IMPLICATIONS INTRODUCTION
1.Sino-Pakistan relations stand out as one of the few enduring friendships that have withstood the pressures of time and shifting geo-strategic conditions. The defense and security dimensions of the Sino-Pak relationship have been based on shared strategic interests and geo-political goals. Various important political and geo-strategic issues have affected this relationship over the period of time, regional and international dimensions, in particular the relevance of India and the United States to Sino-Pak relations. The trajectory of Indo-US strategic ties and the downward spiraling of US-Pak relations which triggers its own logic on Sino-Pak security dynamics. It is evident that as long as India-Pakistan peace process remains grounded on the issue of terrorism and Kashmir, and Pakistan’s relations with US are a downward spiral, Pakistan would continue to view China as its most strategic ally in counterbalancing India, and to some extent the US. China will also have an inherent stake in shoring Pakistan’s political and military stability in terms of its long-term security interests in the South, Central and Western Asian region, and checking the rising presence and power profile of the US. Withstanding all strains and pressures in the relationship, Sino-Pak friendship will endure in the foreseeable future.

2.As staunch allies and strategic partners for the past few decades, China and Pakistan have shared a friendship which has proved of great value in furtherance of their geo-political and strategic objectives. Their strong convergence in security interests has led to a multi-faceted strategic relationship which is reflected in a strong show of support for each other’s positions across a wide spectrum of bilateral, regional and international issues. In 2011, they commemorated 60 years of diplomatic ties, which was also designated as the China-Pakistan Year of Friendship. 3.From China’s perspective, Pakistan serves many of its vital geo-strategic objectives in the region. First, friendship with Pakistan provides a useful counterbalance to India’s pre- eminence in South Asia, helping to check India’s growing presence and clout in the region. Second, Pakistan serves as an important gateway to the Muslim world. It also provides China an access to energy rich countries in Western Asia, helping China meet its growing energy requirements. 4.From Pakistan’s perspective, China is an indispensable ally in helping Pakistan counter India with which it has had an acrimonious and unequal relationship for the last six decades. In addition, given US fickle track record as an ally in the past, Pakistan has a stake in reducing its dependence on the US and cultivating China as a reliable strategic partner in the regional security scenario. Pakistan is also heavily dependent on China for its vital defense supplies and critical help in augmenting its technological and nuclear capabilities. It is widely accepted among informed circles that nuclear cooperation is a significant part of the ongoing Sino-Pak defense cooperation and China has contributed significantly to the development of Pakistan’s nuclear capability. Last, but not the least, China provides it crucial moral and diplomatic support in the international arena in its time of need.

5.In addition to supplying arms to Pakistan, China has played an important role in the modernization of its army, navy and air force. China has provided critical investment and technological support for Pakistan’s military-industrial complex helping it to build defense industries and factories, shipyards, power plants and communication infrastructure. Besides this, the navies of the two countries have also been working closely with each other. The agreements also envisaged the upgrading of the Karachi dockyard, assistance in the modernization of Pakistan’s surface fleet and...
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