This has provoked some American Congressmen to interpret it as Pakistans leaning on China to countervail pressure from Washington. Contrary to speculations, this visit was not prompted by the Abbottabad incident. It was planned much before and was part of the ongoing Pak-China strategic relations. Also, 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the Pak-China relationship and has been designated as the year of friendship between the two countries, which was reflected in the celebrations and extraordinarily warm welcome extended to Pakistans prime minister in China. Therefore, to suggest that the visit was organised on the spur of the moment is misleading.
Pakistan and China have a longstanding relationship, especially since 1962, when China and India went to war over a disputed border. The Chinese have been steadfast friends and have supported Pakistan through thick and thin. Chinas interest lies in a stable and prosperous Pakistan. They have been very generous in sharing their development and progress in the economic and technical fields and have aided Pakistan in every possible manner. Therefore, the visit of Prime Minister Gilani should not be considered as reactive.
Pakistan is a sovereign country (despite challenges) and has the right to choose its friends and explore options for positive relationships other than the US. Pakistan is not bound to have a one-track relationship with the world through the US. The US raid in Abbottabad created a perception that Pakistans air force is weak and compromised, prompting India to remark that it could carry out similar attacks on jihadi outfits in Pakistan. Like a true friend, the Chinese have agreed to speed up the production and delivery of 50 JF-17 Thunder aircraft for Pakistan. This has not only sent a clear signal to the world that China stands by Pakistan but will actually strengthen our air defense against any such misadventure. Gwadar port:
China has a keen interest that Pakistans vision to become a trade and energy corridor, which links Central Asia, Russia and China with the warm waters of the Arabian Sea should become a reality. If the Gwadar Port develops and is linked with rail and road infrastructure, Chinas interests will also be served. Compared to shipping from the eastern seaports, trade through Pakistan will tremendously ease trade for China. China wants to develop its relatively undeveloped interior western regions. The best way to achieve this is to provide an outlet for the region through Gwadar. The Chinese have agreed to take over the operation of Gwadar Port after the contract with the Singapore Port Authority expires in anticipation of this dream becoming a reality. China has stakes in a developed and prosperous Pakistan and is ready to help it grow. Is Pakistan ready to avail this opportunity and develop the capacity to take advantage of Chinese generosity?
SECOND EDITORIAL: Attack on US Consulate staff Another day, another attack. An improvised explosive device (IED) struck two bulletproof Land Cruisers of the US Consulate staff in Peshawar on Friday, injuring 11 people and killing one passerby. Two consulate personnel suffered minor injuries in this first attack on US diplomats after the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. This comes in a sequence of similar attacks that have been taking place throughout the country since al Qaedas leader was killed, including against Saudi personnel in their Karachi consulate. It is feared that this is just the beginning as the extremists might be getting warmed up to fulfil their pledge of revenge against Pakistan, the US and other countries that had a part to play in bin Ladens death. Other NATO countries too are on the terrorists hit list. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the Peshawar attack and have declared it retribution for bin Ladens death at the hands of US Navy SEALs.
When such a red alert situation exists in the country, it is shameful that adequate security measures are still lacking to prevent such attacks from taking place. Just as Osama was a high value target for the US, likewise, US, European, Saudi and even Pakistani citizens are high-value targets for the militants. To have foreign and our own citizens under threat on our shores and to be woefully unequipped to protect them is pathetic, to say the least. It is almost as if the security forces in Pakistan are too de-motivated in the face of a murky, bloodthirsty enemy.
The area where this latest attack took place, University Town, is considered to be one of the more posh residential locations in Peshawar. It is a community where foreigners usually live. For a militant onslaught to take place there shows that even the most well-off of places is unsafe, what to say of the rest of the country. The security and law enforcement agencies have to get their act together. Our intelligence establishment cannot afford to fall asleep (again?) in the wake of the bin Laden episode and our police and security forces need better methods of detection and prevention. Arrangements must be made to better police the streets and allow citizens, whether international or local, to move about without incurring the risk of being blown to bits. * Home | Editorial