The United States may ask China to put pressure on Pakistan to act against Afghan Taliban and other terror groups having sanctuaries inside Islamabad.
The U.S. may carry out strikes in Pakistan as part of its new regional strategy for stabilising Afghanistan, its Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, a day after President Donald Trump announced a change in America’s approach to Pakistan. The aid being provided to Pakistan, and its status as a non-NATO ally are on the review table but China may view with suspicion any U.S. moves to expand the scope of drone strikes beyond the tribal areas.
AS China has economic and strategic interests in Pakistan that involvs tens of billions of dollars in investment. The marked shift in Beijing foreign policy is due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which Chinese officials have described as the flagship for President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative.
China will provide a stronger support than it did the last time when US-Pakistan tensions deteriorated after the 2011 special forces raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. ” Beijing’s interests in Pakistan have shifted markedly in recent years, and Beijing cannot be expected to react the same way that it did in the Abbottabad aftermath.”
For successful implementation of new U.S. South Asia strategy ,U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a warning to Pakistan authorities that if Islamabad continue to support Afghan Taliban and other terror groups in Pakistan, then the Trump administration is likely to impose sanctions on them and may carry out air raids inside Pakistan.
China is willing to extend economic support and political protection to Pakistan if U.S. punishes Islamabad with sanctions. But China is also concerned with the security of Chinese nationals and its assets involving China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
“Demonstrating that China can stick by its closest military and intelligence partner during trying times is a credibility issue that now extends well beyond any bilateral interests,” the article reported.
“Beijing is likely to view with suspicion any US moves to expand the scope of drone strikes beyond the tribal areas. While the US would say that any strikes on militant safe havens have nothing to do with China, Beijing, with its wary eye on the deepening US-India strategic relationship, may not be persuaded.”
The new US South Asia strategy involves tightening the screws on Pakistan if it doesn’t address militant safe havens within its borders,
“Some things haven’t changed. While it might seem that Beijing would see any deterioration of Islamabad’s ties with Washington as an opportunity to exploit, China has long perceived greater advantage in a robust US-Pakistan relationship. Given Pakistan’s most important role for China has been as a counterbalance to India, it wants Islamabad to benefit from solid US economic and military support,” South China Morning Post reported.
“Healthy ties with Washington are seen by Beijing to place implicit limits on the scope of US-India relations. They also ensure that Pakistan doesn’t turn into yet another point of tension in US-China relations or act as an impediment to Sino-Pakistani security ties,” South China Morning Post reported.
Beijing’s main aim is to form a basis for continued US-China cooperation on Afghanistan by supporting reconciliation talks with Taliban. “Beijing’s first instinct will almost certainly be to see if there is scope to square the circle between US and Pakistani interests rather than risking a slide into mutual antipathy. An agreed path towards peace talks with the Taliban will probably continue to be China’s main focus, even if the near-term prospects of negotiations remain poor.”
Beijing also wants to see a stable settlement in place to ensure that Afghanistan cannot become a safe haven for Uygur militant groups or a threat to its growing strategic interests in the region.
Moreover, Chinese PLA troops mission is to expand its global power projection capabilities and for this reason,”the People’s Liberation Army is strengthening ties with partners in areas ranging from naval cooperation to counterterrorism.”
In 2015, when Pakistan was being pushed by the Saudis and the UAE to play a significant role in the military campaign in Yemen. Chinese economic reassurances helped Pakistan to resist the entreaties and financial threats. China has also given stronger political cover to Pakistan in international forums.