May 21 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan. Islamabad is Beijing’s all-weather strategic cooperative partner. In the words of Pakistanis, the time-tested strategic partnership is higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the Arabian Sea, sweeter than honey, firmer than steel, and more precious than eyes, which is tested by time and wind, and, In Chinese words, it is “iron friendship“.
For more than six years, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as the flagship project, has been riding the wind and waves, and constantly moving forward,. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CPEC didn’t stop. However, some in the world who are jealous of Pakistan’s prosperity and progress, and the profound development of the storm-tested friendly China-Pakistan relations, always want to stir up troubles.
Late on April 21, a terrorist attack hit the Serena Hotel in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, Pakistan. Nong Rong, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, and Li Bijian, Chinese consul general to Karachi, who were on an official working visit to the province, stayed in this hotel. Fortunately, they survived untouched for they were out for official duties at that time.
We must firmly condemn any terrorist act. However, some Western media racked their brains, speculated maliciously
and made false allegations about this incident. For instance, they alleged that Pakistan is absolutely unsafe, and that it is very dangerous to invest there. Besides, they described the terrorist attack was not only local armed militant’s retaliation for China’s so-called infiltration into Balochistan, but also a warning to the CPEC. Some Western media with evil intentions have taken the opportunity to smear Pakistan, discredit the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and sow discord in China-Pakistan relations.
What is the truth? According to an assessment in February, Pakistan has made indelible achievements in the anti-terrorism war since 2009.
I worked in Pakistan in 2009 when terrorism was rampant there. Even in Islamabad, there was at least one terrorist attack almost every week. Now things have sharply changed. According to the Brookings Institute, the annual number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan dropped from more than 4,000 in 2009 to 319 in 2020, and the annual death toll from terrorist attacks has fallen from more than 2,700 in 2009 to 169 last year, or about 6 percent. Pakistan has continuously launched Operation Sword and Operation Clean Sweep, backed by reliable intelligence, launched 375,000 counter-terrorism clearance operations (figures provided by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations Department) with precision, dismantled 78 branches of terrorist organizations, especially their hideouts, judicially disposed of 717 terrorism-related cases, sentenced 344 terrorist criminals to death, and executed 58 of them for the most heinous crimes. This shows that Pakistan is not only a major contributor to the international community, but also a major source of support to the international community.
What is the latest development of CPEC today? I want to quote the words from Yao Jing, former Chinese ambassador to Pakistan and now the Director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. He said that the Chinese people sincerely hope that the Pakistani people will live a good life, without self-interest. Many Pakistani friends have really felt so, that their life has significantly improved.
For example, the CPEC has helped Islamabad out of the problems of blackout, which troubled local people almost every day by 2014. For example, (take the ) power situation. When the author was in Pakistan from 2003 to 2014, there were power cuts in Islamabad for eight hours a day (in 2010), or every two hours, so most homes were equipped with diesel generators. When I asked my friends who are still in Pakistan today, they said that Islamabad is now basically free of power outages except for occasional ones to repair lines. This is thanks to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor construction process. China and Pakistan jointly build a large number of hydroelectric, thermal, nuclear and new energy infrastructure, so that Pakistan is largely free from power shortage.
In contrast, what has the
superpower the other major country on the other side of the Pacific Ocean done? So far, the government and people of Pakistan have not received any anti-pandemic materials from the US. Besides, the summit on climate change hosted by Washington didn’t invite Prime Minister Khan as it has ignored Pakistan’s status as a great big country. When PM Imran Khan visited this big country in 2019, they did not hold an official welcome ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House and gouged Pakistan for $100 million in so-called aid, i.e., replacement of parts and components for the weapons they supplied, and the salaries, bonuses, food, lodging, flights, etc. of experts sent for this purpose were to be deducted from this $100 million. It is said that this “aid” is not free. It is clear who is a friend of Pakistan and who is not.
It can’t be denied that there still are terrorist organizations in Pakistan. Even if they have been severely hit,
extremism extremist ideology remains. But who on earth should be hold accountable for allowing terrorist attacks terrorism to run rampant in Pakistan and Afghanistan? Who used not only guns, but also their own aid agencies in the two countries to help print various pamphlets to promote jihads? And who was the one who had to suffer the consequences first?
Relevant countries and Western public opinions shouldn’t forget the
bloody tragedy lessons of 9/11 attacks and shoot itself in foot again. It’s high time to stop groundless moves to rub salt on China-Pakistan relations.
The author is a senior researcher of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.