Better US-Pakistan relations no loss for Beijing

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/21 21:33:40

US President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold his first meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Washington on Monday. The White House invitation to Pakistan represents the US' willingness to repair fraught bilateral ties and rebuild an enduring partnership, the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported, citing a US official.

Washington's rekindled enthusiasm toward Pakistan highlights the rising importance of Islamabad in global geopolitical landscape - particularly in South Asia, as Pakistan gives full support to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is being seen as an economic game changer in the region.

With the CPEC, a flagship project of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, Pakistan is able to take advantage of its geographic location and serve as a corridor in trade routes linking China and the West. 

The CPEC is expected to make a substantial contribution to economic growth in Pakistan, enabling the country to act confidently in regional affairs. 

Islamabad in June announced support for the intra-Afghan dialogue during Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's visit to Pakistan. 

In some people's eyes, stabilizing Afghanistan will be an advantage for Pakistan at the upcoming summit with Trump, who wants to pull US troops out of Afghanistan.

The China factor carries weight in Khan's US visit. It's possible that Washington wants to maintain pressure on Islamabad to prevent the country from getting too close to China. The US is likely to press Pakistan to do more to sustain its crackdown on terrorists. Meanwhile, the US may try to cozy up to Pakistan with economic assistance, repair ties with Islamabad and persuade the country to coordinate with Washington's rebalance to the Indo-Pacific and dilute the influence of China in the region.

China supports Pakistan's efforts in developing its economy and at the same time fighting terrorism, and is willing to see a closer economic relationship between Pakistan and the US, which would make the South Asian country an attractive investment destination for the US. Maintaining sound relations with the US serves the interests of not only Pakistan but also the development of the CPEC.

In this globalized era, no bilateral relationship is exclusive. Better relations between the US and the "iron brother" of China don't mean Beijing is losing ground. 

It's natural that Pakistan develops its relations with the US, but deep down, Pakistan is unlikely to embrace the US, as shown by India.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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