Zulfikar Ali Bhutto & Sino-Pakistan diplomacy

Published: June 13, 2016
Former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. PHOTO: PID/FILE

Former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. PHOTO: PID/FILE

Former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. PHOTO: PID/FILE The writer is co-chairperson of the PPP and served as president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013

Nearly over half a century after the establishment of diplomatic ties, China remains the greatest friend and ally Pakistan has known. With our alliance being forged during the height of the Cold War, there is one man I must credit above all others in fortifying and sustaining that relationship when it was at its most complex. He is the unsung hero of international politics and diplomacy, a man who never faltered in his devotion to democracy, equality and education. He was a man whose vision was decades ahead of its time and who serves as a towering figure of inspiration — the legendary Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. His legacy of developing strong relations with China lived through his daughter and my late wife, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, and continues to live through his grandson, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Today, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s actions have left a mark on the world that very few appreciate outside of Pakistan. When writing his last testament, he regarded his hard work in building ties with China as his greatest achievement in foreign policy for he had the foresight to appreciate that China would eventually support Pakistan in its venture to counter India’s nuclear monopoly in the subcontinent.

A reader may be led to ask as to what he did that led to the development of such a relationship with China that would later be described as “higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, dearer than eyesight and sweeter than honey”. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was wise enough to realise that in the aftermath of the 1962 Sino-Indian war, Pakistani interests were clearly aligned with China and he moved to swiftly settle the Tran-Karakoram dispute in 1963 to ensure that a firm relationship was established. The Sino-Pakistani alliance was based upon much more than a common resentment of Indian encroachment; it was forged on the ideals of cooperation, mutual respect and trust. During Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s visit to Beijing in February 1972, he successfully negotiated an economic and military aid package, worth $300 million for Pakistan, and China also agreed to write off loans amounting to over $110 million. Through his diplomatic ingenuity, he took the centre stage when he facilitated the Sino-American diplomatic effort alongside Henry Kissinger. This effort directly led to President Richard Nixon’s visit to Beijing in February 1972 and resulted in China being recognised as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

The late Mao Zedong and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto personified the Sino-Pakistan alliance. The two statesmen were on very friendly terms — they were always able to make time to meet each other as is evident through the fact that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the last statesman Mao Zedong was photographed with. Imagine the progress Zulfikar Ali Bhutto would have made for the betterment of Pakistan and its allies such as China had he not been executed by the Ziaul Haq regime. General Zia was a man who sought to undo Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s life’s work. However, Benazir Bhutto, successfully continued her father’s legacy and secured an ever closer union with China when she was prime minister. She conducted two prominent state visits to China, including one which celebrated Mao Zedong’s 100th birth anniversary.

I sought to continue her work when I was elected president of Pakistan and further cement this relationship as a service to the country. Only history and the people of Pakistan can judge the success of my achievements in this regard. With the rise of militant extremism, it is clear that Pakistan is willing to take all necessary measures to ensure its sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as that of our ally, China. Cooperation is at the heart of our relationship and no extremist or non-state actor has the will to match our resolve. During my tenure as president, China continued to demonstrate that it is our most valuable ally when after one of the worst floods that hit Pakistan in 2010, it provided us with aid and assistance worth over $250 million. It was through the groundwork laid during my tenure that we now see investments worth $46 billion being announced for the Gwadar port and for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Our alliance has reached new heights as these investments and free trade agreements will work to ensure mutual prosperity. The CPEC will prove to be the economic ‘Great leap forward’ of this generation and will determine the success of our economy in the early 21st century.

The Sino-Pakistan bond has proven to be essential in the development of Pakistan. China continues to provide assistance to us in maintaining our essential infrastructure. Major projects have been launched as a result of China’s investments, including a Lahore-Karachi motorway, the further expansion of the Gwadar port and the construction of two 1,100MW nuclear reactors. Karachi and Gwadar provide for a strategic trade route from the Middle East and Europe to China through the new Silk Road. A well-maintained road linking Pakistan’s ports to China will ensure that the latter’s economy continues to grow. The people of Pakistan are eternally grateful to China’s genuine interest in seeing our nation prosper. Prosperity for Pakistan definitely entails prosperity for China. It is at this time that we must also look back with gratitude to legendary statespersons like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and Mao Zedong, which made this alliance possible.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2016.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (25)

  • Sajjad malik
    Jun 13, 2016 - 11:06PM

    Great article by a great leader. Who wisley fought Pakistan foriegn policy and her international statusRecommend

  • Pops
    Jun 14, 2016 - 1:03AM

    If it wasn’t for the shared enmity for India, China would drop Pakistan like
    a used diaper.Recommend

  • Jun 14, 2016 - 1:26AM

    Mr.10% is talking about a man who divided Pakistan into two. East Pakistan is now Bangaladesh and obviously being intellectually superior Bengalis are progressing at a faster rate. West Pakistan is still in Stone Age.Recommend

  • Siddhartha Thorat
    Jun 14, 2016 - 1:32AM

    How come in 1971 the chinese didnt step in. And the one country you all love to abuse sent its aircraft carrier, USA. If it hadnt been for Soviet threat, they would have done what the Chinese clearly promised but didn’t do, help your country break up. During Kargil, where were the Chinese as the Pak army withdrew?Recommend

  • Ali
    Jun 14, 2016 - 1:36AM

    Thank you for that sir. Now please return our money.Recommend

  • Pops
    Jun 14, 2016 - 1:47AM

    China and Pakistan have nothing in common, other than India.
    Name one thing!Recommend

  • Ajeet
    Jun 14, 2016 - 2:57AM

    China is the lifeline for the two failed states, North Korea and Pakistan. Recommend

  • vinsin
    Jun 14, 2016 - 3:45AM

    $46 billion is a loan not investment. First person who need to be thankful for Sino-Pakistan relation is Nehru – who declared J&K as a disputed territory and went to UN, declared ceasefire, accepted Dixon Plan, didnt protest Korakoram highway and supported Sino-Pakistan friendship. Recommend

  • Khan
    Jun 14, 2016 - 3:57AM

    Nice article. Indeed Zuliqar Ali Bhutto did alot on the diplomatic front for Pakistan and so did her daughter. No doubt you also tried to take this one step further with China as well as to renew our relations with Russia, however, there were some chamchas and cronies that used your name and made money only. You did not pay heed to the public issues as were required. Despite all this, PPP always tried to be the party of the poor and particularly that of the smaller and deprived provinces. Now is the time to revive PPP and do ihtisab in Singh at least. Don’t let dakos and lotiras to use your name and make their banks laden with wealth. Recommend

  • mirestan
    Jun 14, 2016 - 5:55AM

    This article is not based on truth. trying to change the history.Recommend

  • Khan
    Jun 14, 2016 - 7:00AM

    Admin Plz, don’t allow abusive comments here. He is the Ex president of Pakistan and co chairperson of a big dimocratic party of Pakistan. You may have differences with him and with his party but please behave like a human and be in your limits. I am not his supporter but I do respect him as he deserve to be respected. Recommend

  • sabi
    Jun 14, 2016 - 7:34AM

    Had there been no Bhutto there would have been no Zia and no Musharraf and eventually no theocracy today. Pakistan in contrast would have been a great economic power of the equivalent of Japan Germany, USA and off course a secular state as it was supposed to be.Recommend

  • Jun 14, 2016 - 11:00AM

    Don’t be so romantic , Chinese are not our real cousin . it’s only convergence of interest that is we both have a common enemy . Pakistan couldn’t resolve some disputes with India because of China didn’t and don’t want pakistan India rapprochement.we forget some demerits of sino pak so called friendship but remember China wants to see Pakistan as her satellite not an equal independent of yellow colonialism . Recommend

  • zafar
    Jun 14, 2016 - 11:12AM

    Writer and every one else knows if ZAB was alive today what he would have done with Asif Zardari.Recommend

  • jan
    Jun 14, 2016 - 11:14AM

    It is ironic that this article coming from a person who has proven himself a mere stooge of the Americans during Raymond Davis episode.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Jun 14, 2016 - 12:02PM

    Of course, ZAB would kick someone like AZ so hard radar would not be able to track him !Recommend

  • Mir Arif
    Jun 14, 2016 - 12:43PM

    Bravado, Mr President!Recommend

  • Khan
    Jun 14, 2016 - 1:31PM

    *Great article once again…*Recommend

  • prabhjyot Singh madan
    Jun 14, 2016 - 2:42PM

    Please, please, my ancestors were from pindi and gujranwala, take care of people there, I am a proud Indian and 2 uncle of mine died in 1971, let loc be a LOCACATION OF PEACE (loc). My parents lost their home.live and let live.Rab rakhi,jaihind. Thank you Recommend

  • Realist
    Jun 14, 2016 - 3:50PM

    Wait for an article from Mian Sahab, if our ex president can hire someone to write a piece I am sure his opponent will replicate this strategy.Recommend

  • bahadurkhan
    Jun 14, 2016 - 7:33PM

    It is a good article. Architect of Operation Gibraltar, Operation Grand slam in 1965 is Zulfikar Bhutto. This led to Bangladesh 1971. Todays MQM rise is due to Zulfikar. Indian immigrants want education and jobs. Not anti Punjab alliance.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jun 14, 2016 - 9:56PM

    If during your five years in government you had delivered for the people, the name Zardari would not be as despised is it is…….and you Sir would not have had to fall back on on the ‘ Bhutto ‘ slogan to try revive yourself. Recommend

  • Ali
    Jun 15, 2016 - 4:00AM

    Asif Zardari is Pakistan’s worst leader – a proven murderer and blackmailer – a guy who has faked a university degree. Recommend

  • bahadurkhan
    Jun 15, 2016 - 7:08AM

    while the talents, leadership of Zulfikar cannot be taken away. We must remember till 1945 he used to frequent Bombay for education and the peg. Being a graduate of old University of Bombay like another Graduate Jinnah, Sind was a turf to play political games.In retrospect i dont think he would have any second thought on independat sindh if it suited him.Recommend

  • Nisar
    Jun 15, 2016 - 7:11PM

    Totally subjective approach, one-sided picture Recommend

More in Opinion