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Better US-China ties create opportunities for Pakistan

Updated Apr 29, 2017 07:46am


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WASHINGTON: A recent improvement in US-China relations can create a ‘comfort zone’ for Pakistan as Washington views Beijing’s growing influence in Afghanistan as a positive development, diplomatic observers say.

“While Pakistan has close and tested friendship with China, it also desires strong and mutually beneficial ties with the United States,” says Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary, Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington. “Pakistan was a bridge for the US to China and remains so for common good.”

Senior US and Pakistani officials met in Washington last week to review their relations, discussing both “difficult and less difficult” issues, as an observer said. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar led the Pakistani team at these talks. National Security Adviser Gen H.R. McMaster led the US team.

Speaking at a seminar on US-Pakistan relations at the Harvard Kennedy School on Thursday, two days after the White House meeting, Ambassador Chaudhary said that both sides showed a desire to strengthen their ties.

“The recent high-level engagements between the two sides were cordial and there was a desire on both sides to constructively engage for a broad-based relationship,” he said.

Islamabad hopes that new US policy for Afghanistan will protect its interests in the region

Pakistan’s relations with the United States began to strain in May 2011, when Americans discovered Osama bin Laden in a compound in Abbottabad, launched a commando operation and eliminated him without informing Islamabad.

Since then, the United States has regularly accused Pakistan of allowing terrorists to use its tribal belt to attack targets inside Afghanistan. Pakistan rejects these charges as incorrect and says that it launched two major military offensives in the area, eliminating militants’ sanctuaries and killing hundreds of terrorists.

The United States acknowledges the success of those operations but says that some elements of the Haqqani Network are still operating from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Mr Chaudhary, while talking to Dawn, stressed the need to overcome the disputes as ties bet­ween the two nations were too important to be igno­red. “Both Pakistan and the US have a shared interest to stabilise Afghanistan, defeat the increasing presence of Daesh, and augment the ongoing cooperation in several areas, from education to health to energy to IT and commerce and investment,” he said.

Pakistan expressed desire to reboot ties with the US at a time when the Trump administration is reviewing its policy for the South Asian region. But US sources say the review process foc­uses on Afghanistan, not Pakistan or the greater South Asia. The team making the new Afghan policy is expected to complete the task by mid-May.

“Since the relationship between the US and Pakistan is security-centred, the US administration looks at Pakis­tan from the Afghan perspective,” said a diplomat while explaining why the review also concerned Pakistan.

Pakistan has already conveyed its views on Afghanistan and hopes that the new policy would also protect its interests in the region: it wants a role in the peace process and an assurance that India will not be allowed to use the Afghan territory for stirring troubles in Pakistan.

A former Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, confirmed Pakis­tan’s concerns in a confessional statement earlier this week, stating how Indian and Afghan officials had sheltered Pakistani Taliban, who had fled after the launching of Operation Zarb-i-Azb, and were now encouraging them to attack targets inside Pakistan.

The US concern, however, revolves around the militancy in Afghanistan as it wants enough stability in that country to allow a peaceful disengagement. The Americans also want the set-up they established in Kabul to continue after their withdrawal.

Washington also notes with concern that their apparent failure to contain the Afghan insurgency, and continued terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, have encouraged two other international players — China and Russia — to claim a role in Afghanistan.

Diplomatic observers say that US does not want Russia to re-enter Afgha­nistan after its disastrous withdrawal from there in 1989 and that’s why it’s suspicious of Islamabad’s growing ties with Moscow. But it is more comfortable with China, particularly after President Donald Trump’s April 6-7 meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The improved ties have paved the way for China to play a greater role in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan and this is where Pakistan also sees an opportunity for itself.

“We do not consider it a zero-sum game,” said Ambassador Chaudhary while stressing Pakistan’s desire to maintain close ties with both China and the United States. “We played a bridge role in the 70s and we still believe we are a bridge.”

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2017


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Comments (55) Closed

The truth ( india) Apr 29, 2017 08:04am

Lol. Please go ahead.

YOURSTRULY Apr 29, 2017 08:05am

Suddenly the craving for relationship with the US?

flipflop Apr 29, 2017 08:19am

@The truth ( india) so you think peace in Afghanistan should not happen ? US have already lost quite a lot due to wars waged on baseless accusations and they need some other player to take over and China is taking over. US is loosing its global presence which i think is good even for India. If Pakistan is smart, they would refuse to take part in whatever China wants to do in foreign countries. If Pakistan truly wants to help then they may help via investing in infrastructure and projects in troubled nations.

Alba Apr 29, 2017 08:33am

The population of the US state of Nevada in 1885 was 15% Chinese. There are millions of Chinese Americans, half of them with relatives in mainland China. Americans have a relationship with the Chinese people. Communism in China is a secondary consideration. One million American tourists visit China each year. To believe Chinese and Americans are enemies is a very silly idea. One thing is certain. Chinese people trust their relatives, and they do business with overseas Chinese throughout the world. A couple of millionaires in China move to America every week because doing business is easier in the US. Pakistanis make a mistake in believing Pakistan has closer ties to China than the US does simply because the Chinese are building the CPEC. By comparison very few Chinese are natives of Pakistani.

natu Apr 29, 2017 08:47am

US will use pak as a broker for their interest, pak cannot make any relations unless US prefer

ChoGi Apr 29, 2017 08:48am

Is this a sattire?

Ameriki Boy Apr 29, 2017 08:55am

Bridges can be burnt.

News analysis Apr 29, 2017 08:55am

Afghanistan has not seen stability since 1979 when Soviet forces entered,but later left. The situation never improved,and remains disturbed as per events happened. International community quite generously helping Afghanistan to stand up on its feet,but rampant corruption by the rulers did not let it survive.The best option for Afghans is to sit and resolve their issue through grand jirga, no outside nation could force a solution. And the UN and all other donors must generously help to normalise situation there.

Harfan Maula Apr 29, 2017 09:10am

Other than To itself, Pakistan offers nothing to the world. A bug zero. Sorry for being brutally honest.

Hassan Abbas Apr 29, 2017 10:21am

It is the time now when US has to alienate some more importance to Pakistan. As. the US wants an alliance and settlement with china improve relations with Russia. Pakistan will work to bridge the gap of US-China ties. It will create an indirect influence of US over the Middle east as well as the Central Asia.

Rp Apr 29, 2017 10:48am

@ChoGi - yes , it is!

Chaudhry Apr 29, 2017 10:50am

Indians - please digest the reality. None of your keyboard wars are going to isolate Pakistan. Period.

Shahid Apr 29, 2017 11:08am

What opportunities? More aid?

Nahrad Muni Apr 29, 2017 11:11am

India has very deep and direct friendships with Afghanistan and Iran. Other countries have no say in this matter. Period.

Azmeen Apr 29, 2017 11:33am

A good Pak strategy to maintain a balance in relations with USA. China& Russia.

M. IRFaN Apr 29, 2017 11:49am

America has no option but to be friends with Pakistan. All the tough talk of Trump has vanished due to support of China to pakistan.

Global Peace Apr 29, 2017 11:55am

@Chaudhry no one .. you have China & north korea for company. both are great countries of the world & remembers for upholding civil rights & human upliftment

Bhola Bhala Apr 29, 2017 12:03pm

If Pakistan would like to solve the Kashmir issue-India is the best country to talk.

sher Jang Gilgit Apr 29, 2017 12:04pm

Despite being the sole super power of the contemporary world, USA can not exerts its strategic goals without taking Pakistan into a credible confidence and Mr.Trump is well informed person. In the flow of his tenure he will soon realize this expediency and annunce a surprise visit to Pakistan in order to set his agenda for future ties. India is losing credibility because of rising events intolerance and its propensity to make ends meet by side lining the democratic principles and the grave human rights violations it is committing in order to suppress the genuine demands of the people of Kashmir about their self determination. The Indian stupidity is going to be exposed in the coming days and Pakistan ' s sincere position shall shine like the brilliance of a rising star folks.

Khanm Apr 29, 2017 12:04pm

@Azmeen ...Balance is not something you find, it's something you create

Khanm Apr 29, 2017 12:09pm

@Ameriki Boy ...never burn the bridges and make wall..whenever we say us against them. We have created a fine line against humanity...

Saif zullfiqar Apr 29, 2017 12:13pm

Pakistan-China-US vs. India-Bangladesh-Nepal.

Khanm Apr 29, 2017 12:14pm

@Harfan Maula ...Life gives us a flair of awareness in the breeze of our daily journey and offers a free reign to explore what we are, to experience what we are not and to find out what we may become: a free ride until everything melts down into the indistinct and indefinite, while walking up to the ultimate gate of non-existence. ("Living on probation.

John Apr 29, 2017 12:20pm

" Pakistan has close and tested friendship with China"

Try saying that after 10 years from now.

BharatJadhav Apr 29, 2017 12:21pm

@M. IRFaN One need to understand USA need Pakistan because of Iran- US Strained Relations Not because you have a strategic position.

El Cid Apr 29, 2017 12:35pm

Idiots in decision making positions.

Noor Apr 29, 2017 12:36pm

It is useless to test the tested one.Pakistan could not make happy USA after scarifying hundreds of thousands innocent Pakistanis.But Pakistan must play with this card as well.We will have to introduce new strategy and new trends in our Foreign Policy towards USA.

amin Apr 29, 2017 12:38pm

@Harfan Maula yes niether the other third world countries. Thats why we are third world

Wasim Kamran Apr 29, 2017 12:54pm

great move

China Admirer Apr 29, 2017 01:19pm

If wishes had wings, the sheep would fly.

kevin Apr 29, 2017 01:26pm

@Saif zullfiqar So you left Russia now ? This is treachery...

nitin Apr 29, 2017 01:30pm

Again too much self importance , seventies is history now, China does not need any " bridge " they have a direct connection with USA. the only interest US has in Pakistan is dismantling of terror infrastructure and curbing of nuclear Weapon program .

lafanga Apr 29, 2017 01:31pm

@ChoGi No it is not and it's spelled satire.

Ashraf Apr 29, 2017 01:36pm

This bridge role costed us our present. When will we learn n focus on ourselves ?

sky Apr 29, 2017 01:44pm

@Saif zullfiqar Can you please include Bhutan as well. India loves Bhutan, the happiest country in the World

oommen Apr 29, 2017 01:45pm

Afghan "game" has cost Pakistan dearly. The whole country suffers due to these useless game.

ZK Apr 29, 2017 02:58pm


Let us think of doing something independently and innovatively, so others will take pride in calling us their friend....something other than day dreaming !!

Blue Knight Apr 29, 2017 03:24pm

@sher Jang Gilgit

Wow what an analysis!!

saqib MUGHAL UK Apr 29, 2017 03:30pm

@Global Peace well China is well engaged with the world and already making goods for the world rather than simply shouting slogans and begging to "make in India".

saqib MUGHAL UK Apr 29, 2017 03:33pm

Much to the frustration and embarrassment of Indians ,the new trump administration has not dispensed any statements or policy to isolate Pakistan.

syedchaudhrygangadinkhan Apr 29, 2017 03:35pm

If Pakistan has to learn anything from China, it'll have to be self reliance. Instead of always looking for opportunities from others, when will Pakistan start relying on its own resources, human or other wise? God know we have them.

Taimoor KHAN Apr 29, 2017 03:37pm

@Chaudhry very true. These Indian keyboard warriors are having difficulty in coming to terms with the reality of India becoming irrelevant in geopolitical chessboard.

GAUTAM ( Netherlands) Apr 29, 2017 03:43pm

@ SAQIB MUGHAL KARACHI " rather than simply shouting slogans and begging to "make in India".

The estimate by the United States Department for Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA), based on data collated by World Bank and IMF, assumes the Indian economy will expand annually at an average 7.4% to $6.84 trillion by 2030. This will make it bigger than that of the economies of Japan ($6.37 trillion) and Germany ($4.38 trillion).

What’s more, India’s annual economic output will be almost double that of Britain ($3.6 trillion) and France ($3.44 trillion) in the next 15 years.

Saif Zulfiqar Apr 29, 2017 04:19pm

SKY, You can have all SAARC members if you want. We three are more than enough.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Apr 29, 2017 04:19pm

Let's hope for the best, be prepared for the worst and leave the rest to God Almighty.

shafqatmir Apr 29, 2017 04:33pm

@saqib MUGHAL UK bravo, sir

Hyderabadi Apr 29, 2017 04:40pm

@flipflop Well said Bruv.

Hyderabadi Apr 29, 2017 04:45pm

@sher Jang Gilgit yes Bhai, wish your analysis is true. Looks like for everything you need bring India for comparison, just for a change, why don't you directly deal with US as a equal part near rather than a beneficiary?

true minds Apr 29, 2017 04:47pm

@Saif zullfiqar Good one,You forget to add Russia .and why giving Nepal and Bhutan to India.Let India be suffer single.

Iqbal Apr 29, 2017 04:55pm

@sher Jang Gilgit Why don't you make comments without involving any other country's name.

Naz Apr 29, 2017 08:52pm

@John we were saying it it 10 years ago and will be saying it in 10 years. It hurts you doesn't it. Lol

kumar Apr 29, 2017 08:57pm

I think Pakistan failed to capitalize from the friendship of USA or China. See for example Japan, China, Israel, .... developed themselves a lot by exporting or collaborating with America. Pakistan being close to USA for more than 2 decades and recently with China.... failed badly to lift the local institutions, manufacturing and services to its true potential. Please don't think collaboration on security front, there is nothing in that other than sharing pain....!!!

PC Apr 29, 2017 10:05pm

@flipflop Nice to hear that you are "worried" about Afghanistan. Why not come clean? Why not telling that you are finding opportunity to get some more US-China alms. The whole world knows it.

A Shah Apr 29, 2017 10:35pm

Once we have CPEC Pakistan economy will be bigger the US and China combined.

Jayw Apr 30, 2017 08:38am

@Saif zullfiqar Good delusions.