BEIJING: The Pakistan Prime Minister, Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani is expected to seek stronger support from ‘all weather friend’ China as he visits the country at a time when Islamabad is working to tide over the crisis following the killing of Osama bin Laden on its soil.
Mr Gilani’s visit is being billed as the most significant by a Pakistan leader in recent times as it comes at a time when a Pakistan is locked in a tense stand off with long time ally the US.
“The visit assumes added significance in view of the ongoing developments in the region,” Mr Rong Ying, Senior Research Fellow at the state-run Chinese Institute of Strategic Studies said, referring to the US-Pakistan tensions in the aftermath of bin Laden’s killing by US troops.
China-Pakistan relationship is important and significant from its own perspective and history, he said.
High level visits by Pakistan to China are frequent considering their close strategic relations. The President, Mr Asif Ali Zardari has visited China five times since he assumed office in 2008. But Mr Gilani’s visit this time is attracting more than usual attention even though it was worked out earlier.
Pakistan is facing internal turmoil after the US raid that killed bin Laden early this month and unrelenting pressure from the US to crack down on top Taliban leaders and other militant groups.
Mr Gilani is therefore expected to seek stronger support from China at a time when Pakistan is facing intense international scrutiny and pressure, reports said.
Besides holding talks with the Chinese President, Mr Hu Jintao and the Premier, Mr Wen Jiabao Gilani, Mr Gilani will during his four-day visit also kick off events being organised to celebrate the 60th year of establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
He will land in Shanghai tomorrow and go to Suzhou to address the first conference of World Cultural Forum. He would later arrive in Beijing with his high powered delegation for talks with Chinese leaders.
A number of agreements in the fields of economy, trade, finance and culture were expected to be signed during the visit, according to officials on both sides.
For its part China has already extended its full backing to Pakistan after bin Laden’s death, praising Islamabad’s contribution to terror and backing its demand that US should respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
At the same time China also called for united global efforts to fight terrorism There is however a sense of disquiet in Beijing over the attack by US SEALS on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad which took placed two days after the China-Pak strategic dialogue here, attended among others by the Pakistan Foreign Secretary, Mr Salman Bashir.
Analysts here say that while any confrontation between US and Pakistan may be of China’s advantage as it would result in Washington tied down in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the raid itself, portends the inroads US had made into Pakistan in the name of fighting terrorism. Mr Rong said tensions would prevail in US-Pak relations for sometime but it was unlikely that both would snap their ties.
“I do not think their relations will snap. It is important for both of them,” he said.
He said China hopes that US-Pakistan joint efforts against terrorism would yield good results but at the same time US should carry Pakistan along with it for effective battle against terrorism.
On implications for deepening of strategic ties between China and Pakistan, Mr Rong said Beijing has its own relationship with New Delhi.
“China and India interaction has its own rational and merits. India does not want to be hypnopaedia with Pakistan. India understands US engagement with Pakistan and India need not worry too much about China-Pak strategic relationship,” he said.