The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wrapped up a two-day visit to Pakistan on Friday. Wang met with a number of top Pakistani leaders, including President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Sharif’s national security and foreign affairs advisor, Sartaj Aziz, and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif. One major theme of the visit was China and Pakistan’s coordinated efforts to provide for Afghan stability, including reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan. Pakistan needs this cooperation to solidify fast, to give Afghanistan an alternative to Indian investment. Indian support for Afghanistan could very soon turn military, and we do not need that type of encirclement. With Obama having tea parties with Narendra Modi, China is our only friend, and we must latch on.

Wang also announced that China was ready to support the Afghan government in reconciliation with various political factions including the Taliban. Though the US will very well be cynical of such a strategy, as should Pakistan be, it shows that China is being very pragmatic with its foreign policy. If any reconciliation has to happen, Pakistan must make sure that it is on the Afghan side and not the Pakistani side. The Pakistan Taliban and Afghan Taliban are two different entities today, and we want Afghanistan to be stable so that its problems of terror don’t bleed into us, and it remains a market for trade. Apart from that, we don’t need to make their problems our concerns. China has been playing this game for decades. One of its biggest trade partners is Taiwan, yet China will never budge from its political position. We have a place in China’s sphere of influence, and a very important one at that as we have a port in the Gulf. Business must not be mixed with politics of religion, and the Taliban have no place on our balance sheets.

When Henry Kissinger, who later became US Secretary of State, made his secret visit to China in 1971 to prepare for the normalisation of US-China relations, he sneaked in from Pakistan. Beijing has kept Pakistan’s military equipped when supplies dried up from elsewhere and also provided information and enriched uranium for Pakistan’s nuclear bomb. This has been a give and take more efficient than that between Pakistan and the US. For Beijing, Pakistan has been a way to keep India off balance and Pakistan must make sure this relationship endures.