President Zardari, who arrived in Xingjian capital Urumqi on August 30 for a three-day visit to participate in the China-Eurasia Expo, met Chinese Vice Premier Li Kequang and discussed the prospects of enhancing business linkages between the two countries, expressing his happiness at the bilateral trade figures having reached $8.7 billion. Later, he went to Dushanbe, Tajikistans capital, and attended the four-power conference of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and Tajikistan, where they pledged strengthening regional trade and fighting terrorism. Mr Zardaris request for holding the next meeting of the four in Pakistan was accepted. His meeting with Afghan leader Karzai would, hopefully, remove irritants between the two countries. We have always argued that we should reinforce our ties with the tried and trust friend China, which has unhesitatingly come to our help whenever we have stood in need of it, and on top of that, without asking for a quid pro quo. We also cannot ignore the strategic compulsions of having smooth, trouble-free and, indeed, friendly relations with neighbours Afghanistan and Central Asian States. Besides, there are other countries that have, over the years, established their undisputed credential as sincere friends and well-wishers and have helped us in a big way. Thus, we should go all out for firming up our bonds with them. Saudi Arabia, UAE, some other Gulf countries, Turkey and Iran would figure prominently in this list. Then, a common thread of religion runs through Pakistan and Indonesia, physically distant, but emotionally very near; the same would apply to Malaysia, not located that far. However, there is an unfortunate tale of failure to iron out differences with India, our eastern neighbour. It has not given up its grudge against the Muslims of the subcontinent for their successful bid to carve a separate homeland for themselves out of 'Mother India. Its enmity against Pakistan, instead of withering away with time and the demands of mutual interests, has grown proverbial. Therefore, unless it changes its attitude and solves disputes with us in a spirit of equity and justice, the most vital for Pakistan being Kashmir, the leftover agenda of the partition, there can be no understanding with it. Relations with other states, including Russia another important neighbouring country, with the potential to re-emerge as a superpower and the West, no doubt, hold great significance for us. We should be cultivating these countries, but making sure that our supreme national interests are well protected. As our relations with the US, which have enjoyed unmatched prominence all through our existence, have invariably left a bad taste in the mouth, it is time we learnt a lesson. China stands out with an array of key projects executed for us and is ready to take up any project in the future. There should be no question in determining who really is friend in need We hope the Presidents visit will bring Pakistan and China even closer.