Dec 27, 2010 - Jan 2, 20

The 3-day visit to Pakistan by the Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, last week has attained another milestone in the history of friendship between the two countries often described as deeper than sea and higher than Himalayan peaks. This visit was indeed of special significance as it covered all aspects of ties between the two countries i.e. the strategic, political, and economic. During this visit, the distinguished guest from the fast emerging super power and an economic giant of the world made sure that he meets all the stakeholders in Pakistan. He concluded his visit by declaring that his country stands firmly with Pakistan in getting through tough time and overcoming multi-dimensional challenges.

Wen Jiabao won the hearts of 170 millions Pakistanis when he declared "your pain is our pain and your joy is our joy" adding that China would always support Pakistan in its efforts to safeguard its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity besides helping her to improve its economy.

During this visit Pakistan and China have signed 35 agreements and memorandums of understanding entailing investment of about $36 billion to cement what is perceived as a pragmatic trade and economic cooperation which will take the bilateral political trust and understanding to a new high. The signing of MoUs and agreements which started hours after the arrival of the Chinese Prime Minister in Islamabad on Friday continued on Saturday and culminated with the conclusion Pakistan-China Business Cooperation Summit.

Thirteen agreements related to cooperation in the public sector, while 22 were between the private sectors of the two countries.

Mr. Wen and Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gillani were present on both the occasions. The agreements relate to energy, rail-transport, agriculture, alternative sources of energy, banking, financial sector, chemicals, mineral development, livestock, fish harbor, infrastructure development and enhancement of transmission capacity of NTDC.

Later, briefing the reporters, Information Minister, Qammar Zaman Kaira, said that these projects would be completed during the next five years development plan. Priority sectors for investment from China are oil and gas, mining, power on coal, hydel and gas, information technology and telecommunication, value added textile sector, agriculture and agro based industry, and livestock and dairy farming.

Addressing the Business Summit, the Chinese Premier said that his country would help Pakistan to find markets for its products in order to reduce the trade imbalance. China would send trade promotion delegations to Pakistan for this purpose. The volume of Pak-China trade would be enhanced to $15 billion by 2015 from the present level of less than $5 billion. Bank of China would soon start operating in Pakistan to facilitate and promote bilateral trade, he added.

Chinese Prime Minister who addressed the joint session of Parliament on Sunday morning-last day of his stay in Pakistan-aptly titled his speech "shaping the future through thick and thin". In these seven words lies a message that no Pakistani, in power or out of power, should ever forget. It beckons us to follow the Chinese unmatched example in shaping the future, if wee want to march ahead towards a prosperous Pakistan. At the same time, the title reaffirms Beijing's assurance to work together with us under all circumstances. The question here is whether our west leaning leadership is prepared to pick up the hint and cast our lot with China. We have been rebuffed time and again in securing help from the US in matters crucial to our economy, helplessly watching it to shower favors on India. It is high time to review our foreign policy priorities and our over dependence on western powers who have not proved trustworthy and invariably let us down in moments of crises. Instead, we should look towards east and consolidate our links with China who has never disappointed during about 60 years long relations.

During this visit, the focus on economic cooperation is especially important for Pakistan in the present circumstances when the US dominated international lending agencies like World Bank and the IMF is threatening and blackmailing us to change our policies according to their dictates. The generous help offered by China at this critical time is most vital to strengthen Pakistan position to deal with these lending agencies.

Sharing the significance of China's help, Pakistan's Information Minister said that it would be helpful in strengthening Pak China position on major international and regional issues. He said, "both Pakistan and Chinese leaders exchanged views to further strengthen the China Pakistan strategic partnership on major international and regional issues of mutual interest.

One would hope that the words of Chinese Prime Minister that China will never give up Pakistan would continue to resound in the minds of our ruling leadership and heads of the various political parties with whom he interacted during his visit. These golden words ought to have a telling effect on them, and should prompt them to reorient Pakistan's policies to strengthen our ties with China.

Our leaders should know that even the people at large, who are not supposed to have much sense of relations with foreign countries, will go the whole hog with them. They know for sure who Pakistan's genuine friends are.