For some time now, Beijing and Islamabad have been eager to highlight their close military and diplomatic alliance, which has now extended to an enduring economic partnership.
China is investing more than $50 billion in infrastructure and energy projects in Pakistan. Collectively called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, these investments aim to connect northwestern China to the Gulf through Pakistan’s transport network and ports.
However, their friendship is now being tested by their differing responses to the presence of militant groups in Pakistan and Islamabad's covert support for Afghan insurgents. The rift came to the fore this month when China joined Pakistan's archrival, India, and other BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, and South Africa) in voicing concern over the security situation in the region and violence caused by some 10 militant groups, most of whom are either based or sheltered inside Pakistan.
In a sign that Beijing has now de-linked its Afghanistan policy from its alliance with Islamabad, the September 4 BRICS leadership summit declared its condemnation of “terrorist attacks resulting in death to innocent Afghan nationals” while reaffirming support for Kabul. “We support the efforts of the Afghan national defense and security forces in fighting terrorist organizations,” the declaration added.
To discuss this issue, RFE/RL media manager Muhammad Tahir, who moderates this podcast from Washington, was joined by Andrew Small in the same town. As a transatlantic fellow of Washington's German Marshall Fund, he is a longtime observer of the alliance between Beijing and Islamabad, which is the topic of his book. Huma Yousaf, a Pakistan researcher at Washington's Wilson Center think tank, joined us from London. As usual, I contributed from Prague.
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The views expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.