Do the China-Pakistan pipeline shuffle

From the Gwadar port complex to fighter jet sales, strained relations between the US and Pakistan are benefiting China. – Published on AlJazeera, by Pepe Escobar, May 27, 2011.

Gwadar is Pakistan’s first deep water port; constructed with Chinese investment it will play a crucial role in moving Middle East oil to energy hungry China for decades to come [EPA]

China is adamant that the West “must respect” Pakistan’s sovereignty.

The message was delivered during Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani’s recent four-day visit to Beijing, which celebrated no less than six decades of strategic relations – involving, among other issues, nuclear collaboration and support over the ultra-sensitive Kashmir question.  

The Times of India reconstructed the message as a stark warning that: “any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China.”

Chinese diplomacy dwells on too much sophistication for such a crude outburst; but even enveloped in red velvet, the message – in view of the non-stop US drone war over Pakistan’s tribal areas, not to mention the “get Osama” raid in Abbottabad – was indeed a bombshell.

Whatever the merit of charges that Islamabad helps some Taliban factions – such as the Haqqani network in North Waziristan – the Pakistani politico-security-military establishment has had enough of being treated by Washington as a mere satrapy, or worse, a bunch of punks.

Pakistani popular opinion, from urban centers to tribal areas, roundly abhors Washington’s drone war. And even before the Navy SEALS raid to get Osama the sordid Raymond Davis case was configured as the ultimate humiliation.

Davis, a CIA asset, shot two Pakistanis dead in broad daylight in Lahore; an American “extraction team” killed another one who was trying to save Davis from arrest; and then the CIA paid blood money to finally extract Davis out of the country. Sovereignty? What sovereignty?

Strategic ports: … //

… On message:

Beijing actively helped Islamabad’s nuclear weapons program. Next August, China will launch a satellite into orbit for Pakistan. Roughly 75 per cent of Pakistan’s weapons are made in China. Soon 260 Chinese fighter jets will become the core of the Pakistani Air Force.

Even before Beijing delivered the message that Pakistan’s sovereignty shouldn’t be messed about, the Pakistani military had already delivered their own message.

It concerned that most photographed rotor of the stealth Black Hawk helicopter that crashed beside Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad. The Pakistanis threatened they would let the Chinese tinker with it – and that would certainly yield some ace reverse engineering.

It didn’t happen. But still they didn’t get the message in a Washington whose leeway over Islamabad is a strategic rent that goes basically to Pakistan’s military. If the US congress would cut it – threats abound – there’s no question Beijing would be delighted to make up the difference.

Washington may still have a sterling opportunity to get the message next month, when the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meets in Astana, Kazakhstan. There’s a strong possibility that Pakistan may be enthroned as a full member, upgraded from its current status of observer.

This means, in practice, Pakistan as a member of the still embryonic Asian answer to NATO. An attack on any NATO member is an attack on them all, according to its charter. The same would apply to the SCO. Ladies and gentlemen, draw your conclusions – and start dancing to the sound of the Sino-Pak shuffle. (full text).

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