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After US conditional aid, Pakistan to forge closer strategic ties with China

Pakistan China

Pakistan is likely to turn to China to develop its military and technical cooperation as it is already assassinating it economically after President Trump administration’s decision of giving access to Islamabad of $ 225 million worth of military assistance only with a condition that it takes more action against terror groups.

Islamabad may turn to China in a bid to resolve the issue as already both the countries have agreed to strengthen anti-terrorism and security cooperation along a US $50 billion economic corridor that links the restive regions of the two countries through a network of rail and road projects.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, connects Xinjiang province in northwest China with the deep-water Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea in southwestern Pakistan. It faces challenges from Islamic militants in both the regions.

The recent visist of Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua ‘s visit to China that followed after U.S. President Donald Trump accused Islamabad of habouring terrorists is a big indication that Islamabad can have more from China. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi praised Pakistan’s anti-terrorism record when he met Asif.

“Pakistan is a good brother and iron friend of China. No one knows Pakistan and understands Pakistan better than China,” he said.

Earlier, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang met Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and said China and Pakistan are “iron friends” and all-weather partners of strategic cooperation who always support each other and pledged to deepen their pragmatic cooperation in various fields so as to ensure early harvests in the CPEC project.

Wang, who attended the flag hoisting ceremony and activities marking the 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence at the invitation of the Pakistani government at Islamabad’s Convention Centre, said China and Pakistan had stood by each other in difficult times and “this friendship will stand the test of time and grow with coming generations”.

Pakistan internal power struggle is on and the transition period is likely to last until the parliamentary elections in the country, which are slated for in 2018.

Islamabad has already begun to adjust its domestic and foreign policy amid the increasing clout of the Pakistani military. Islamabad is specifically focusing on issues related to its cooperation with China and Afghanistan.

The Trump administration notified Congress on Wednesday that it was putting $255 million in military assistance to Pakistan into the equivalent of an escrow account that Islamabad can only access if it does more to crack down on internal terror networks launching attacks on neighbouring Afghanistan.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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