Washington: Pakistan is increasingly going to rely on China, given the low ebb in its relationship with the United States, but Beijing is most likely not to oblige much to Islamabad, a noted US expert said on Monday.
"Pakistan's military will increasingly rely on Chinese equipment. But the track record of China-Pakistan relations -- especially during natural disasters and crises with India -- suggests a relationship in which Pakistan asks for much and Beijing is circumspect about giving," Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center, a Washington-based eminent think-tank said.
In an article titled "Pakistan's Patron" released to the media, Krepon said India remains thoroughly non-aligned, even after its civil nuclear deal with Washington. Pakistan, in contrast, needs patrons, and has succeeded in having two powerful ones -- Washington and Beijing –- to counterbalance India, a significant diplomatic accomplishment.
"No other country has managed to draw significant, concurrent support from Washington and Beijing, both before and after these powerhouses started speaking to each other," he said.
Krepon said Pakistan, with its relationship with the US now at rock bottom, is looking to Beijing for investment and infrastructure development, but big steps forward are hindered by its internal security problems.
"In a stunning blow to Pakistani economic development plans, the China Kingho Group pulled out of a USD 19 billion deal to build coal mines, power and chemical plants in Sindh province because Beijing feels that Karachi is not safe to invest or reside in," he said.
"Beijing has also called out Pakistan -- a very unusual move -- because of unrest in China's western border areas stoked by militants trained in Pakistan. Islamabad has pledged to deal with the issues causing Chinese discontent, and seeks to get investment back on track," he wrote.
During crises with India in 1990, 1999 and 2001-02, Pakistan's civilian and military leaders made beelines to Beijing seeking backup, he said, but noted that they received polite but unmistakable advice to resolve their difficulties with New Delhi without major new weapon shipments or shrill public warnings against Indian military adventurism.
"Beijing helped the US, South Asia's essential crisis manager, more than it helped Pakistan during these three crises," Krepon said.
During the millennial flood of 2010, the US provided USD 550 million to help Pakistanis in great distress, including USD 62 million is seeds and agricultural implements so that farmers could produce a bumper wheat crop after the waters receded.
After prodding by US officials, China reportedly added USD 200 million in flood-related assistance to its initial offering of USD 47 million, he said.
"Pakistani government leaders have tried to strengthen their partnership with China in tangible ways as ties with the US fray. One method of dealing with Washington's growing disaffection is by characterising security assurances purportedly made in private by Chinese officials in ways that Beijing has notably refrained from reaffirming," he wrote.