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Choosing US over China is strategic madness for Pakistan

Rumors are circulating that Pakistan is thinking about moving away from China in favor of the US. Such a shift in foreign policy will only harm Pakistan as the US, unlike China, never cared about Pakistan's well-being.

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There have been rumors circulating of late about Pakistan contemplating shifting her alignment away from China and move into the U.S camp. These have included stray talk of providing a few military bases to the latter to substitute for what they are likely to lose in post-occupation Afghanistan. Some of the rather nebulous statements emanating from the U.S have only added to this confusion.

If there is any truth to these rumors, it would be a major shift in policy that calls for not only careful deliberation but also national debate and consensus. We need to share all the relevant information with the people.

Read more: China and US to push forward economic deal – despite tensions

The repercussions involved in taking any such action will be huge, giving rise to a plethora of suspicions. Given the political situation as it stands, it is highly doubtful if the party in power will survive the shock.

Pakistan needs friendly neighbors

Each nation makes foreign policy decisions based on its own self-interest. If there is any basis for these speculations, the government needs to join the debate and clarify its nature and purpose.

If there is any substance to what is being alleged, the rumored choice will cause very serious concern in all the countries with which we need to have amicable and friendly relations including China, Iran, Afghanistan, and Russia.

Read more: Rising tensions between the neighbors; Pakistan offers diplomacy to Iran

Given that India can never be our friend, as things stand, it amounts to surrounding the country on all sides with neighbors that will look at Pakistan with suspicion at the very least.

How will that promote Pakistan’s self-interest remains a deep mystery. It will be naive in the extreme to think that the four countries named above will accept the situation and learn to live with it. They are much more likely to act appropriately to protect their interest.

Read more: Op-ed: In Pakistani democracy, self-interests trump ideological motivations

Strategic madness?

It may be argued that any arrangement will be temporary. First of all, no one will believe this. Secondly, what happens if the party involved decides to make it permanent and refuses to leave the bases? Does Pakistan have the means to enforce her will and get the bases vacated? Why get into the realm of a messy arrangement when we don’t have to?

The choice of the country with which we allegedly wish to have close, if unseemly relations, is also enigmatic. If past history is any guide, her intentions towards Pakistan have always been and still remain anything but sanguine.

Read more: What is US planning and does Pakistan need to watch out?

Her policies are deeply influenced by Israel and to a lesser extent by India —- two countries that have never wished Pakistan well. It so happens that all three of them are hostile to China. It makes no sense for Pakistan to be joining their camp.

China, on the other hand, has always stood by Pakistan through thick and thin. More importantly, she has a vested interest in Pakistan’s stability and wellbeing which the Americans don’t and never will by the look of things.

Read more: Cost of US-China Rivalry for Pakistan – Andrew Small

Given the choice, it seems a little short of strategic madness to even consider losing a trusted and dependable friend next door for the sake of one that makes no commitment and has only a passing interest in the area.

The writer is a retired naval officer and is the author of ‘Pakistan: Roots, Perspective and Genesis’ and Muslims and the West: A Muslim Perspective’. The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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