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Military skirmishes started between the Pakistan army and the supporters of Free Bangla Movement (FBM) to separate Eastern Pakistan from the Western wing. At the time of British’s division of Indian Subcontinent in 1947, a large number of refugees went to India as the Bangla Movement declared Eastern Wing of Pakistan an independent and sovereign state known as Bangladesh. Later on, Pakistan-China friendship was initiated by the then Chinese Prime Minister Chou En Lai. He wrote a letter to President Yahya Khan on 13 April 1971, in which he wrote: Pakistan and China are friendly neighboring states. The government of China has faith that through the prudent discussions between the government of Pakistan and its leaders with the Chinese government, the chaotic situation of Pakistan can be restored back to normal. The government of China has also noticed that the Indian government is interfering in the internal situation of Pakistan and exploiting it for their benefit, just like what is being done by the USSR and United States. The government of China maintained the stance that India must not be allowed to interfere in the internal political matters of Pakistan and exploit them. The situation needs to be handled by Pakistan alone. Chinese government assured that in case of any aggression launched by the Indian expansionists against Pakistan, China will strongly support Pakistan to defend its State Sovereignty. The increasing Pak-China friendship and collaboration at that time became a threat to the Indian government that caused India to make its own coalition with the Soviet Union. As a result, Indo-Soviet Treaty was signed between the relevant states in August 1971. Both the Pak-China friendship in 1963 and Indo-USSR alliance in 1971 demonstrates the notion of making alliance based on the pragmatism and geography instead of the ideology of ‘attack on one state will be considered the attack on the other’. India being a democratic state in a western sense followed the policy of non-alignment, but due to necessity to counter the threat of Pak-China alliance, India associated itself with the Soviet Union. According to Steven Walt, states sometimes act realistically and practically and align themselves with the powerful state to offset the threats. In 1971, Pakistan and India fought a war which resulted in separation of Eastern wing of Pakistan, followed by India’s recognition of it known as Bangladesh. The war of 1971 strengthened Pak-China relationsand started a new era of geopolitics in the region of South Asia that involves United States.

Soviet Union’s policy of expansionism was indicated by Indo-USSR alliance that threatened Chinese domination in the region, and served as a tool to open US-Sino bilateral talks. Pakistan became a bridging tool to reopen talks between Beijing and Washington that led to the historic visit of United States’ Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to China in 1971. Another reason was the emergence and expansion of USSR under the ‘Brezhnev doctrine’ that became a concern for both China and United States. There was need to counterbalance the USSR’s increasing power. Henry Kissinger visited Pakistan and then China, utilizing its relations with Pakistan to ease the tension of the historic mission with China. The historic visit of Kissinger in 1972 led to the re-initiation of communication between the two states after which, US recognized one government of China. As far as Pakistan is concerned, it experienced the ‘international relations aerobatics’ as it struggled to maintain the contradicting loyalties to both states, United States and China. In order to deter the threat of the emerging power USSR, Pakistan played a key role between United States and China. Sino-Pak relations during the tenure of 1963-1972 were the representation of ‘realpolitik’ where the two states have no permanent enemies nor friends but the relations are only based on interests. However the circumstances changed after 1972. Despite having different ideologies, both states stood together to counter the threat of India and Soviet Union due to the geographic proximity and Soviet Union’s larger military capacity. As far as United States was concerned, it has a much greater economic substructure and military capacity as compared to India and USSR. Following nine years partnership between the two states, China’s noteworthy economic and military support took after by its loyalty and support to Pakistan in the war of 1965, set in stone Pakistan’s longstanding devotion to China if a major clash emitted with India. China also utilized Pakistan’s association with the United States to trigger the end of its global confinement. On the other hand, amid this period, Pakistan turned into an advocate of both China and the United States, getting military support from the two states and utilizing it to improve its own defense position.

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Phase 2 (1972-1989): the second phase of Pak-China stressed on the defense cooperation and expansion of friendship to further enhance the economic and military development. Keeping the Indian threat in mind, the countries strengthened its relations notably in world politics. Like the first phase, the second phase began with the change in global geopolitical environment. Similarly China’s support to Pakistan to counter the threat of India, United States supported China to counterbalance the threat coming from USSR. The 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by USSR, diction of Brezhnev doctrine and rise in border clashes between china and Soviet Union made China realize that the threat of Soviet Union is real which can serve as a tool for more extreme collaborations. The Soviet invasion in Afghanistan and Indo-China fueled China’s concerns. Henry Kissinger said that China needed United States because it did not have the capability and strength to counter USSR all by itself. US and China in 1979 stabilized the relations and created “United Front” against Soviet Union. However, Pakistan and Chinese government showed no interest in normalizing relations with India. In a joint statement by China and Pakistan in 1972, China called the Indian forces to withdraw from Kashmir. It again brought the Kashmir issue in the lime light in a joint statement of Nixon and Chou Enlai in March 1972. During 1971-1978, with the help of China, Pakistan progressed in the field of defense. With Chinese assistance, Pakistan developed Aircraft Refitting factoriesfor its renovation of aircrafts A-5.27, F-6 and F-7. Pakistan Ordinance Factories (PoF) which was built in 1947 by the British government was further developed under the assistance of China, with the ability to produce small arms & ammunitions, anti-aircraft weapons etc. The number of factories also increased to 14 with over 40,000 employees.Chinese government helped Pakistan to establish military links with North Korea especially by empowering Pakistan to purchase infantry and artillery hardware from them. According to Walt, “support does not guarantee alignment, states help and support one another only when such programs serve their own interests. Likewise, China’s efforts to strengthen the defense and military capacity of Pakistan was mutually helping China to counter the threat coming from India. Building Karakoram highway with Pakistan also gave China an opportunity to get access to the northwestern parts of the region. The project was the outcome of bilateral cooperation of China’s People’s Liberation Army and Pakistan Army. Through the alliance with Pakistan. China utilized the opportunity to establish friendly relations with the other Islamic countries of the Middle-East like Iran and Saudi Arabia thus leaving behind its decades-long ‘Policy of Isolation.’ The Communist leader of China Hua Guofeng was amongst the last few foreign leaders to visit Iran before the Iranian Revolution of 1978, which allowed China to supply arms and military equipment to Iran. The Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Washington met with its Chinese counterpart in Islamabad in 1985 in a secret meeting which later on led to the March 1988 agreement between China and Saudi Arabia, that allowed Chinese government to supply its CSS-2 surface-to-surface Ballistic missile to KSA. Apart from receiving foreign exchange, the weapon sale helped China to furnish its diplomatic relations with other Gulf States. During this time period of Gulf war, China exported CSS-2 along with Wong Feng missile (a liquid propellant BM, capable of deploy conventional, chemical/biological and nuclear warheads) to KSA. Saudi Arabia bought 36 missiles from China worth $3 to 3.5 billion. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in 1990 cut off its ties with Taiwan and recognized People’s Republic of China, which profited China diplomatically. Furthermore, Pakistan facilitated the Islamic population of China to visit Mecca and Medina to perform Hajj and provided scholarships to the Chinese students to study in Islamabad’s International Islamic University, a project of Pak-KSA cooperation. China’s access to Pakistan and other Middle Eastern states appeased fundamental Islamists and strengthened domestic defense production. It also expanded in the foreign policy arena, by giving China access to the other parts of the world. Another major aspect of Pak-China friendship was to neutralize the threat which came as a result of USSR invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. United States also forged its relations with China and Pakistan to monitor and counterbalance Soviet gains in the region. The three states came together and cooperate against one giant expansionism of USSR. US’s CIA, Pakistan’s ISI and China’s Intelligence services developed a close relationship aiming the exchange of information and observing Soviet Union’s activities in Afghanistan. Pakistan-China-US nexus exhibited their tendency to neutralize the threat came from the states having aggressive intentions against them. As far as Pakistan is concerned, it benefited hugely from this nexus. During the tenure of 1963-1980, China provided $1.5 billion worth arms to Pakistan and also help the country to grow its defense industry and allowed it to compete economically in the International market.


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