Pak-China friendship has not only evolved to touch new highs over the past few years, the countries are
now reshaping the entire South Asian region. So much, at least, was there for everybody to see at the
second round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue in the Chinese province of
Hainan on Friday. The two sides exchanged views, as expected, on bilateral relations, the future of the
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), international and regional issues of importance to both countries, and
different ways of controlling the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps even more importantly, at least from
Pakistan’ point of view, the Chinese side also put its weight behind Pakistan’s position on disputed
Kashmir once again.
The Chinese side the dispute should be resolved peacefully and properly through the UN Charter,
relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China also stands opposed to any
unilateral actions that can complicate the situation, a reference no doubt to the Indian government’s
decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status last August. At a time when almost every country in the
region has serious differences with India, even Delhi’s usual allies, and China itself has had a limited
standoff with it in the Laddakh region, it is perhaps only natural that Islamabad and Beijing have taken it
upon themselves to bring some semblance of order to South Asia.
The prime minister said very clearly in a recent TV interview that nobody should make any mistake
about the fact that Pakistan’s future lies with China and both countries are not only going to grow
together but also protect and reshape the entire region. The times when US goodwill and largesse
dictated matters in South Asia in general and Pakistan in particular are already in the past. The only
American adventure in the region at present is its Pivot to Asia, launched under the Obama
administration, which seeks to limit Chinese advances by partnering with India. That explains, of course,
why both America and India remain vehemently opposed to BRI as well as CPEC (China Pakistan
Economic Corridor). Critics often say that by going so strongly towards China, Pakistan has only changed
one master and donor for another. But it’s not as if the Pakistan-China relationship is one-sided. Foreign
Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was the only international diplomat that led a team to Beijing when
China was drawing all sorts of criticism for being the nerve centre of the coronavirus. Both sides,
therefore, have not only cared for and helped each other immensely over time, but continue to do so
for a better future for the whole region.
At a time when almost every country in the region has serious differences with India, even Delhi’s
usual allies, and China itself has had a limited standoff with it in the Laddakh region, it is perhaps only
natural that Islamabad and Beijing have taken it upon themselves to bring some semblance of order
to South Asia.