Thursday, 23 December 2010

Pakistan Shows Signs of Turning Away From the United States

Written by  Malik Ayub Sumbal

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's three-day visit to Pakistan in accompaniment with a huge business delegation, as well as subsequent statements and body language of the Pakistani politicians is a clear message of goodbye to the West.

Wen's visit and the finalizing of forthcoming investments worth $20 billion raised serious concerns among the U.S. lobbyists here in Islamabad.

China has already invested $20 billion in Pakistan and has another $17 billion worth of projects ongoing. Approximately 10,000 Chinese workers are engaged in 120 projects in Pakistan, which includes heavy engineering, power generation, mining, and telecommunications.

Sino–Pakistan relations began in 1950 when Pakistan was among the first countries to break relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan and recognize the People's Republic of China. Following the 1962 Sino-Indian War, Pakistan's relations with China became stronger; since then, the two countries have regularly exchanged high-level visits resulting in a variety of agreements. The relationship has been described by Hu Jintao, President of the People Republic of China, as "higher than the mountains and deeper than oceans."

Favorable relations with China have been a pillar of Pakistan's foreign policy.

The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, addressing the joint session of Pakistan's parliament, said:

China would firmly support Pakistan in its efforts to safeguards its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity ... China and Pakistan's friendship is a large tree with deep roots and the friendship of people of both the countries runs in their blood ... Pakistan has rendered invaluable sacrifices in the war against terror; the international community ... respect[s] Islamabad's efforts after leaked diplomatic cables showed U.S. officials doubt the commitments of Pakistani politicians to fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Wen Jiabao added: "We should not link terrorism to any specific religion or nation, and avoid pursuing double stands while dealing with the issue. We should rather focus on the root causes of terrorism and ways to eliminate them." He, of course, did not mention the fact that without funding and guidance given by China and Russia to rogue regimes and terrorist groups, the problem of terrorism would be largely abated — as they are the main suppliers and backers of violent groups. The Chinese leaders applauded Pakistan's efforts to fight against al-Qaeda and terrorism.

Foreign policy and defense and strategic studies experts in Pakistan smell a U-turn in the foreign policy of Pakistan, shifting its allegiance away from the United States and toward China. It is suspected that the visit of the Chinese Prime Minister was meant to plow the ground for a civil nuclear deal between Pakistan and China.

The United States of America has serious concerns about a civil nuclear deal between Pakistan and China and, according to a recent statement by the American ambassador here in Islamabad, Pakistan would have to receive permission from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) before such a deal could be sealed. The NSG is a coalition of nuclear-supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of guidelines for exports which are nuclear or nuclear-related. The NSG guidelines are implemented by each participating government in accordance with its national laws and practices. Decisions on export applications are taken at the national level in accordance with national export licensing requirements.

When The New American asked doctoral candidate of Defense and Strategic Studies at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, Rizwan Sharif— who is also a faculty member of the Fatima Jinnah Women University Rawalpindi — about the visit by the Premier, he replied:

The present Chinese Prime Minister's visit is astonishing for the United States of America. [His] visit to India was not as successful as his visit to Pakistan ... I am bearing in mind that Pakistan and China [are] heading towards a civil nuclear deal, if I am not wrong. China and Pakistan have [the] same stance and are against the permanent India membership in the United Nations Security Council.

Rizwan noted that the uni-polar world is going to be bi-polar and that China is likely going to balance the power of the West, adding that Chinese and Indian relations are actually mainly economic in nature, because India has a giant population and economy and China wants to capture India's markets.

While on the topic of U.S. relations, Rizwan indicated that Pakistan's stance on U.S. drone attacks will also be apparent in the next couple of weeks, and it is being expected that the United States will receive restrictions and strict gestures from Pakistan concerning the attacks.

In Pakistan the public has already issued stern objections to the drone strikes. The majority of Pakistanis are against the government because of its yielding policy on the drone attacks — attacks which they say have killed innocent people. The United States has been using drones to target militants in Pakistan for some six years. According to some sources, the total number of drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004 has reached 209, with 2,051 people killed.

Photo: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, left, shakes hand with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani, right, during the inauguration ceremony of the Pakistan China Friendship Center in Islamabad, Pakistan on Dec. 18, 2010: AP Images

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