The Chinese balloon

Yasmeen Aftab Ali

No tangible guarantees were offered to Prime Minister Imran during his first visit to China to seek funds for his cash-strapped country. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou reaffirmed more assistance to Pakistan but that “more talks are needed.”

To reduce Pakistan’s trade deficit, Pakistan seeks unilateral concessions on 313 items from China. If agreed upon, this can lead to t $ 2-3 billion worth trade by gaining access to Chinese market with the zero rate exports. However, final decision has not yet been taken and more meetings are on table.

Pakistan seeks economic assistance from China aimed at seeking lesser loan facility from the IMF and being therefore in a favorable position to enter into a deal.

However, Gareth Leather a senior economist, says, “The IMF is going to be quite tough, and I suspect … it’s going to demand a lot more transparency on these Chinese investment projects. For the moment, nobody really knows where the money is coming from … They will want a lot more transparency, and that’s going to upset the Chinese who like the fact that nobody knows exactly how much they are making from these projects.” (Courtesy Aljazeera)

After US having imposed stricter conditions on Pakistan and suspended security assistance to Pakistan roughly around $900 million also stating that it will see the stance of Pakistan in doing more in terms of curbing terrorism {particularly with Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban} to determine its support in an IMF bailout package on Pakistan, the reliance of Pakistan on China has increased.

To what extent will China help Pakistan at the cost of annoying U.S is debatable. Many corridors passing under OBOR through European countries can be influenced by U.S. With U.S presence in Afghanistan, and Central Asia States route passing through Afghanistan, this can be a major issue for China with CAS energy reservoirs.

International relations today is a complex phenomenon. Pakistan’s approach of dismissing American concerns will not pay. The world has shifted from being a bipolar world to a multipolar one. Whereas a multipolar world distributes power to different centers, it has a major drawback. The economic, security, regional and global interests are so intertwined that it is a fine art to balance these interests. On many occasions lesser nations’ interests may be compromised on the international chess board. Flexibility in decision making can be severely restrained in a multipolar world. This is a reality.

According to Kenneth Waltz1979“Alliances are made by states that have some but not all of their interests in common. The common interest is ordinarily a negative one, fear of other states” (p. 166) (Extract: Understanding Paradigms and Polarity in International Relations: Paul Horness)

Pakistan traditionally has never developed its policies on a broad based level. Both regional and global. First she put all her eggs in the American basket-but rather than learn a lesson from this experience post fallout with U.S recently-we have put our eggs in the Chinese basket. Though China has been a friend to Pakistan, to expect China to jeopardize her interests for Pakistan is an unreasonable expectation. China did not stand with Pakistan at FATF withdrawing her objections to the nomination. Reportedly India offered China a greater role FATF to move past the mandatory rule that needs three members to oppose the move.

What Pakistan needs to do is to take a hard look at what it needs to do. Clear out the cobwebs from the closet and get her act together.

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9

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