Pakistan not to compromise ties with China: expert

22:07, December 16, 2010      

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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's upcoming visit to Pakistan indicates that Pakistan would not compromise its relations with its best friend, despite the war on terror, a Pakistani expert said Thursday.

"We are not ready to compromise our relations with China despite the war on terror," Dr. Shaheen Akhtar, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Regional Studies, said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Pakistan and China have also been conducting joint counter-terrorism exercises since 2004. President Asif Ali Zardari visited the northwestern Chinese Ningxia autonomous region earlier this year. Controlling terrorism and extremism also came under discussion during that visit.

"China's commercial and economic interests and political relations are very much intact with Pakistan," Akhtar said, "There is a basic understanding on geo-political interests."

Talking about Pakistan's six decades of time-tested friendship with China, Akhtar said, "China wants both political and economic stability in Pakistan, as a strong Pakistan is in its interests and essential for regional peace and stability."

Pakistan was very much occupied with external affairs that compromised its internal affairs, she said. Therefore, she said, China wants a stable Pakistan.

China may have limited gains but in the regional scenario, Pakistan is important, Akhtar said.

"An internally stable, energy secured and strategically sound Pakistan is in the best interest of China," she said.

Citing a brilliant example of the Chashma nuclear power projects, the scholar said despite some fuss created by Western lobbies about the peaceful civilian power projects, "the Chinese will go ahead with it."

That's because, she said, the power projects were safeguarded by the International Atomic Energy Agency and crucial to an energy-hungry Pakistan.

Referring to the U.S.-Indian energy deal in 2008, Akhtar said China flagged it that there should be no discrimination.

"This is the Chinese way of doing it, as China would never let Pakistan's interests get hurt," she said.

Elaborating on China's interests in this regard, Akhtar said Pakistan-China relations are important due to commercial interests and that China wants to participate in helping out Pakistan in many ways.

Furthermore, she said, Pakistan relies on China strategically.

China is paying due attention to the trade and energy corridor, Akhtar said, in the backdrop of India's multimillion-dollar development projects in Afghanistan.

"China is not ignoring Pakistan's concerns," she said.

Akhtar said that even if China's economic and commercial interests increase in Afghanistan, "it would be in the interest of Pakistan."

Although bilateral trade was limited, she said, there is a possibility of expansion and diversification.

Until the 1990s, bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and China had concentrated more on the political and defense sectors. With the start of the new millennium both countries have realized the need to enhance trade and commerce. Frequent visits by the Pakistani president to China have been an indication of that, she said.

The annual trade between Pakistan and China has increased many folds since 2001, and recently reached seven billion U.S. dollars.

Wen is on an official visit to India. He will start a three-day official visit to Pakistan on Friday.



Source: Xinhua
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