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Narrowing the gulf

18 14 22

In a recent visit to Beijing to attend a seminar, the earnestness of Chinese scholars to wish for Pakistan to come out of its multifarious troubles was unmistakable. What was more important though was their clear-headedness on the fact that it is Pakistan itself, and no external actor, including Beijing, that is to eventually act to solve its own problems. Therefore, it is imperative for Islamabad to realise that international friends can only offer a supporting hand, the heavy-lifting has to be done by Pakistan. A Chinese colleague, with whom one could not help but agree, stated that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) should not be seen as a panacea for Pakistan’s problems.

The moral here is that Islamabad needs to understand China’s limitations to help and should not take Beijing’s support for granted. It needs to put its own house in order before it is able to benefit from CPEC. Hence, the first geostrategic reality of Pakistan is the cordial relations it enjoys with Beijing. That is a good thing but Islamabad needs to watch its steps and nurture the relationship by enacting serious reforms in different sectors, to fully benefit from Chinese investments and the overall goodwill.

We should keep in mind that at the end of the day, Beijing’s foremost consideration is its own national interest. And its national interest necessitates a peaceful South Asia, especially better Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, so that its connectivity projects are implemented without hurdles. Its recent initiative to host a trilateral dialogue between Beijing, Islamabad and Kabul, points to its desire for better Pak-Afghan relations.

The second geostrategic reality facing Pakistan is the new and more aggressive approach of the US towards different........

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