ISLAMABAD: With no signs of an improvement in strained Pakistan-US relations, Islamabad and Beijing on Tuesday warmed to each other with rhetoric loud enough to be heard across the Atlantic.
“China categorically supports Pakistan‘s efforts to uphold its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” said visiting Chinese Vice Prime Minister Meng Jianzhu at a meeting with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. Meng went on to say that Pakistan was the only state with whom China enjoyed an “all-weather friendship.”
The PM responded to Meng’s resounding endorsements with equally grand words. “Your friends are our friends, your enemies are our enemies and your security is our security,” he told the visiting leader.
According to a statement from the PM’s media office, Gilani particularly mentioned close ties between China and Pakistan in the fields of terrorism, intelligence sharing and anti-narcotics. During Meng’s visit, China provided over Rs110 million in aid for law enforcement agencies in Pakistan.
“We will cooperate with you to the extent you want us to cooperate,” Gilani told Meng, who also held meetings with Pakistan’s top military and intelligence leaders during his two-day visit. Meng called on the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and senior army officers at GHQ on Monday evening, accompanied by a delegation of high ranking Chinese officials.
Meng, a prominent leader in the Chinese State Council, arrived in Islamabad on Monday at a time when relations between Pakistan and the US had plunged into deeper uncertainty and distrust over the Haqqani network.
Experts said the Chinese were willing to support Pakistan in its efforts to counter pressure by the US but wanted Islamabad to defuse tensions with Washington, at least for now.
Meng stated that the Chinese foreign ministry would soon issue an official statement of solidarity with Pakistan in its right to sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
During Meng’s visit, the two sides signed $250 million in economic and technical agreements, according to the office of President Zardari.
(With additional INPUT from WIRES.)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2011.