The last hope for Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan was on a two-day visit to China to win backing for his country’s stance on Kashmir. Both Imran and General Bajwa were on a mission to reinvigorate business and defence ties. While Imran Khan and his delegate met businessmen and Chinese officials, Pakistan’s army chief General Bajwa met the top military officials to discuss the security situation in the region and the tension between India and Pakistan over Kashmir issue.
Once again both Prime Minister Imran Khan and General Bajwa set out to muster support from their supposed best friend and ally China to stand by Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as it has badly hit the security and financial situation in the country. They are again falling back on China to handle the Kashmir issue after the US and other countries refrained from openly supporting Pakistan and putting pressure on India. The disaster at UNGA left them red faced and once again they found themselves knocking the doors of China to beg for help.
Khan’s visit comes just days before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money laundering watchdog, is due to decide whether Pakistan’s efforts to clamp down on terror financing are sufficient for it to avoid being put on a “blacklist.” Obviously, Khan is counting on China’s support in the FATF Paris consultation that begins on October 13.
It is a well-known fact that China and Pakistan are all weather strategic cooperation partners. That is the reason when article 370 was revoked in Jammu and Kashmir, China’s first reaction was to support Pakistan. In one statement, China also expressed its opposition to India’s move to create a separate Union Territory of Ladakh highlighting Beijing’s territorial claims in the area. However, China was not much effected by this abrogation.
Although it is well known that Beijing had vowed to support Pakistan in safeguarding its independent sovereignty and territorial integrity, it later came as a news to the world when it changed its statement. China said that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between New Delhi and Islamabad, significantly omitting its earlier references to the UN and UN Security Council resolutions.
From opposing the Kashmir move by the Modi government and invoking UN resolution in the matter, China has now realigned itself with India’s position that Kashmir issue is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan to be settled through talks. This change in stance makes Pakistan’s isolation over Kashmir complete. Now, no country buys Pakistan’s narrative on Article 370.
Reasons for change in China’s stance
CPEC is part of China’s intercontinental Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which envisions rebuilding the old Silk Road to connect China and Asia, Europe and beyond with massive infrastructure spending largely financed by China. Beijing also hopes BRI will help expand its clout over Pakistan and across Central and South Asia, as well as counter US influence in the region. However, some media reports say the CPEC projects have slowed since Prime Minister Khan came to power in Pakistan in August 2018.
Pakistan’s debt problems, which led the government to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund once again, have also prompted the nation to scale back some projects. Pakistan owes China more than double of what it owes the IMF. And hence, China is reportedly unhappy with a lack of progress on its Pakistan economic corridor.
China looks towards India
China has done a course correction on Article 370 move in Kashmir just in time for an informal summit between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India is very much on track. Mr. Xi’s visit to India is scheduled to begin in Mamallapuram near Chennai on October 11 with what will be his second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, China has already clarified that Kashmir issue will not be a ‘major topic’ during Modi-Xi summit. On China’s stand on the resolution of the Kashmir issue, Chinese government officials reiterated that it always takes Kashmir as a problem between India and Pakistan, taking India’s cue of it being an internal matter.
Seeing the current state of affairs it is very clear that China has also understood whose side to be on. They very well realize that in order to become a global superpower they should join hands with an upcoming superpower such as India and not with a global failure such as Pakistan. Future ties with Pakistan are not going to be beneficial to them either in terms of trade benefits or their aim of global domination. Pakistan has lost all credibility on all platforms, and China knows it very well.
Today the world knows that China is supporting Pakistan but when the time comes to actually stand in support, China has other priorities. It is high time Pakistan should realize that there is not going to be any help coming from its dear friend China and slowly their global isolation is inevitable. Pakistan’s last and only friend seems to be slipping away like a distant dream now.
11 Oct 2019/Friday Written by: Saima Ebrahim