The rhetoric of China-Pakistan friendship is endless, but more so in Pakistan. In 2013, 90% of Pakistanis said China is our friend. So Pakistan is the world's most pro-China country. It is almost a custom to paint newspapers with Chinese red and Pakistani green flags like two hands shaking. The more TV plays, "Pak Cheen Dosti Zindabad", (long live Pak-China friendship), the more Chines companies penetrate into Pakistan, from Gwadar to Gilgit and from Karachi to Kashmir. But have we ever tried to dissect the Pakistan-China friendship? I believe this has become taboo. Let's dissect the Pak-China friendship.
China: Pakistan's friend or foe
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Pakistan has faced so many challenges since it was created in 1947, and it is still a mess. These challenges can be categorized into three groups. Natural disasters, Wars/Conflicts, and Poverty/Crime. The Chines economy is one of the world's largest, capable of providing after every natural disaster but it has provided minimum or symbolic aid abroad. In 2005's devastating earthquake, countries like Cuba and Vietnam came to rescue the victims and later offered medical scholarships to the people of affected areas. Where was Friendly China?
- Wars and Conflicts: 1948's war led to the 1965's and the 1965's war led to that of 1971, when Pakistan lost East Pakistan. Where was friendly China? If Pak-China friendship was real and on ground, not only in Pakistani heads, China would have considered that, but she did not. And most importantly, what are China's efforts toward resolving the Kashmir dispute? Suggesting Pakistan should annex Gilgit-Baltistan for investments or selling guns and missiles?
- Poverty: How many Chinese NGOS are there working to end poverty and poverty related problems in Pakistan? Has China offered anything to Pakistan to combat terrorism other than arms and weapons? Those who are offering free education and the secularization of Pakistani society are not Chinese.
Economic Expansion is the prime focus of China in the 21st-century. It has expanded into Africa and Latin America as well as Pakistan, Iran and India. But the question is, at what cost? Take the Pakistani example and you'll be surprised to learn that 21st century Chinese Capitalism is more brutal than 17th-century Western Capitalism. Karl Marx called Western capitalism, "vampire-like". If he could see China he would say it's worse than vampires because it has undermined people's aspirations, history, culture, politics, just to sell its Barbies and second class smart phone batteries. It has mode Pakistan withdraw from its historical stance on Kashmir. For China to invest $46 billion, it pushed Pakistan really hard. forcing it to declare Gilgit-Baltistan its fifth province.
China has not only pressured Pakistan to give legal status to Gilgit-Baltistan, it has sparked a new anti-Punjab fire in Khabir Pakhtoonkhuwa (KP). If Chinese investment can divide Kashmir or one part of Gilgit-Baltistan from its other parts, it can also divide Pakistan. Sindh and Baluchistan already have separatists but KP will be a greater challenge for the federal government if the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), doesn't satisfy its government and people.
Pak-China friendship has benefited Pakistan, but it has more potential to harm. It has certainly benefitted China, which got Aksai China and the Trans-Karakoram Tract and is now going to have Gilgit-Baltistan. Pakistan needs to understand China's 21st-century economic invasion. If China doesn't want or can't help Pakistan to solve the Kashmir dispute, it is impotent to help Pakistan to fight against natural disasters and terrorism, it can't help raise people's living standards in Pakistan and is only there to worsen Pakistan's geopolitics and offer cyber-crime law, then China is not a friend to Pakistan but a foe.
The writer is pursuing his MPhil at Iqra University Islamabad. He blogs at Kashmirica.wordpress.com and can be reached at @imrankhushaal or email@example.com