While on his four-nation tour, the Chinese (newly elected) Premier Li Keqiang first reached India for his three day visit, and then along with his team he left for his next stop over in Pakistan - followed by his continuing onward to Switzerland and Germany respectively.
Besides signing new agreements and memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the soils of India and Pakistan, China showed its seriousness in resolving and overcoming the issues including the territorial ones.
Since China is in a position to allow or disallow a permanent seat on the UN Security Council which India desperately craves for, India can’t exercise any option against China. Quite obviously, India has to play its cards cautiously within a tight manoeuvring space. Chinese un-supportiveness and India’s related discomfort level is understandable.
However, Premier Li spoke in rosy terms of a “strategic partnership” between India and China.
And despite the freshly resolved issue of “Depsang Valley,” maintenance of peace and tranquillity on the line of actual control (LAC) was on top of the agenda between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Premier Li.
Obviously, if the disputed LAC remains unresolved, trade and economic ties can’t proceed further so qualitatively.
A marvellous outcome of the meeting between two leaders was felt when premier Li stressed on the need to work as regional and global partners.
On the other hand, Pakistan and China as friendly neighbours have five decades long strategic partnership whereby both of them have always been willing to maintain a strong defence relationship. Li’s current visit is just a sign of goodwill as being a part of the ‘continuum’ to continue improving the bilateral relations. Furthermore, China’s offer to act as an arbiter in Kashmir dispute is a beautiful thing, yet it is dependent upon India’s acquiescence.
Of course, a two-day visit made a lot of difference in terms of improvement of already existing political, economic and strategic relations between the two exemplary neighbours. China reaffirmed that its relationship with Pakistan was always a priority in its foreign policy and appreciated Pakistan's long-term reliable support on issues concerning China's core interests.
In fact, the visit served as a solid reaffirmation and reinforcement of the commendable ties.
At a special ceremony, Pakistan and china were signatory to several agreements of economic, social, political and strategic importance
Thanks to Premier Li for having listed his cooperation in “power generation” on a priority basis. That should assist the incoming government of Pakistan to end the plague of severe load-shedding at the earliest to let the wheels of industry move on without any further delay, so that Pakistan begins enjoying its economic revival.
Furthermore, the friendly neighbours agreed to cement their strategic partnership as well as deepen comprehensive strategic cooperation in many areas.
Premier Li called Pakistan “Iron Brother” implying that the ties between the two neighbours were on a sound and unshakeable footing. In Islamabad, he was pleased to declare that the agreement between the two countries would establish a common economic corridor.
But India doesn’t seem to be too pleased with Li’s two-day visit to Pakistan that soon, but the fact of the matter is - the visiting dignitary emphasised that Beijing treated both as important neighbours. The gesture here is development of ties with India should not undermine its close traditional relationship with Pakistan.
By the way, the Global Times, a tabloid run by the Chinese Communist Party wrote in an editorial last Thursday, “India must accept and adapt to the enviable friendship between China and Pakistan, which is not aimed at any third party and has no upper limit”. “China,” it said, “cannot scale down this relationship merely because of India’s feelings.” The editorial wrote further, “developing friendly cooperation with both India and Pakistan meets the interests of China, as well as the interests of the whole region.”
Sadly, India has often put its full diplomatic pressure in an effort to stop the development of cooperation between Pakistan and China.
On the contrary, Pakistan is never irked by any development of closer ties between China and India.
But China’s involvement in projects in Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Chinese-assisted project for upgrading the Karakoram Highway, plans for a possible Railway link between the Xinjiang province and Pakistan usually make Indians angry. Even the announcement of a long-term project for the development of an “economic corridor” linking Pakistan with the central and western parts of China is not welcome by India.
Gawadar port, highways and Railway links provide guarantee of economic prosperity to Pakistan while China will be taking advantage of a new alternative route for the supply of oil and gas from the Middle East.
"The relationship between India and China has grown broader while the Sino-Pakistan relations have gained depth," said the tabloid daily attached to the ruling Communist Party of China.
There are other factors such as militancy in Baluchistan, in Karachi, the negative scenario of the upcoming “post withdrawal era” in Afghanistan and the region that need to be looked at in advance.
Nevertheless, China is a role model for the developing countries; is interested in a prosperously vibrant Pakistan. Certainly, Pakistan will be an emerging market for a large number of Chinese companies. Indeed an economically vibrant Pakistan will be contributive to geopolitical balance in South Asia.
Despite the challenges, Pakistan and India should let the current window of opportunity stay open. With friendly environment, Pakistan, India and the entire region stand to gain a lot.