China pledged its support for close ally Pakistan on Tuesday, after the US decision to suspend $800 million worth of aid.
“Pakistan is an important country in South Asia. The stability and development of Pakistan is closely connected with the peace and stability of South Asia,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.
“China has always provided assistance to Pakistan, helping it improve people’s livelihood and realise the sustainable development of its economy and society. China will continue to do so in the future,” he added.
US President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff, William Daley, announced in a television interview on Sunday that the US had decided to withhold almost a third of its annual $2.7 billion security assistance to Islamabad.
Former President Pervez Musharraf on Monday said he regrets the US decision to stop $800 million in military aid to Pakistan. Musharraf called the move “disastrous”, telling an audience at Rice University in Houston, Texas that the aid cut-off is not in the best interest of the United States because it will weaken Pakistan’s ability to fight terrorism. Musharraf said that he is saddened by what he sees as the recent “environment of confrontation between Pakistan and the United States,” adding that relations can be improved if the US further takes into concern Pakistani sensitivities and sovereignty.
The move has plunged relations between Islamabad and Washington to a new low. Tensions between the two countries were already high after US commandos killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May. The US decision was however welcomed by India. The neighbouring state has long accused Pakistan of providing shelter to militant groups and has pushed the global community and the United States in particular, to censure Islamabad. China on the other hand is one of Pakistan’s closest allies and is also its main arms supplier, a situation that India has also expressed concern about.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2011.