China: Pakistan’s friend or foe

The rhetoric of China-Pakistan friendship is endless but more in Pakistan. In 2013 90% Pakistani said China is our friend. So Pakistan is the world’s most pro-China country. It is almost a custom to paint newspapers with Chinese red and Pakistani green flags in a way that they show two hands are shaking and a friendship is occurring. The more TV plays, “Pak Cheen Dosti Zindabad”, (long live Pak-China friendship), the more Chines companies penetrate into Pakistan from Gwadar to Gilgit and from Karachi to Kashmir. But have we ever tried to dissect Pakistan-China friendship, I believe never because that has become a taboo. Let’s dissect Pak-China friendship.


Pakistan has faced so many challenges since it was created in 1947, and it is still a mess. These challenges can be categorize into three broad categories. Natural disasters, Wars/Conflicts, and Poverty/Crime.

  1. Natural disasters; Chines economy is one of the world’s largest economies. It was capable of providing maximum after every natural disaster but it has provided minimum or symbolic. In 2005’s devastating earthquake countries like Cuba and Vietnam came to rescue the victims and later offered medical scholarships to the people of effected areas. Where was Friendly China?
  2. Wars and Conflicts; 1948’s war led to 1965’s and 1965’s war led to 1971’s, when Pakistan lost East Pakistan. Where was friendly China? If Pak-China friendship was real and on ground, not only in Pakistani heads, India would have considered that, but she did not. And most importantly what are Chinese efforts to resolve the Kashmir dispute? Suggesting Pakistan to annex Gilgit-Baltistan for its investment or for selling guns and missiles?
  3. Poverty; How many chines NGOS are there working to end poverty and poverty related problems of Pakistan? Has china offered anything to Pakistan to combat terrorism other than arms and weapons? Perhaps china has nothing in this regard other than weapons but those who are offering free education and secularization of Pakistani society are not Chines.

Economic Expansion looks prime focus of China in 21st-century. It has expanded into as far as Africa and Latin America and as near as Pakistan, Iran and India. But the question is on what cost? Take Pakistani example and you’ll astonish that 21st century Chines Capitalism is more brutal than 17th-century Western Capitalism. Karl Marx called western capitalism, a “vampire-like” if he has seen China he would say worse than vampires because it has undermined people’s aspirations, history, culture, politics and everything one could believe in, just to sell its Barbies and second class smart phone batteries. It has mode Pakistan withdraw from its historical stance on Kashmir. China to invest 46 billion $, has pushed Pakistan really hard. Pakistan under Chines pressure has gone so far that it has tried to declare Gilgit-Baltistan its fifth province.

China has not only pressurize Pakistan to give a legal status to Gilgit-Baltistan but it has also sparked a new anti-Punjab fire in Khabir Pakhtoonkhuwa (KP). If Chinese investment can divide Kashmir or one part of Gilgit-Baltistan from its other parts it can also divide Pakistan. Sindh and Baluchistan already have separatists but KP will be a greater challenge for the federal government if China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), doesn’t satisfy its government and people.

Pak-China friendship has benefited Pakistan but it has more potential to harm than benefit. It has certainly benefitted China as she got Aksai China and Trans-Karakoram Tract and now going to have Gilgit-Baltistan. Pakistan needs to understand China’s 21st-century invasion through economics. If China doesn’t want or can’t help Pakistan to solve the Kashmir dispute, it is impotent in helping Pakistan to fight against natural disasters and terrorism, it can’t help in elevating people’s life in Pakistan and has only there to worsen Pakistan’s geopolitics and offer cyber-crime law, then China is not a friend to Pakistan but a foe.

The writer is pursuing his MPhil at Iqra University Islamabad. He blogs at and can be reached at @imrankhushaal or

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