THE agreement on future military cooperation, signed by Pakistan's top military official, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen Tariq Maid, with his Chinese counterpart, the Chief of Staff of the Peoples' Liberation Army, Gen Chen Bingde, at the conclusion of the sixth round of the Pakistan-China Defence and Security Talks, does not exist independently, but is firmly rooted in the lasting friendship between the two nations, and their history of cooperation, which is much wider than just the military field, though this too is very important. The Talks themselves were instituted in 2002, and are held in either country alternately, and have evolved into a very valuable forum for the two armed forces to exchange views. At these Talks, the two sides expressed satisfaction that the friendship between the two countries had stood the test of time, notwithstanding the changes in the international, regional and domestic environments, and had matured into a comprehensive strategic partnership. It was not without significance that after the talks, General Tariq was engaged in visits to the HuDong Shipyards in Shanghai and to the Cheng Fei company in Cheng Du, where respectively he will see the progress of the F-22 frigates destined for Pakistan, and the JF-17 Thunder air superiority aircraft which is a joint project, with Pakistanis also engaged on the project to develop a next-generation fighter for both air forces. Apart from the assurances held out during the talks, these two projects also symbolize how China is prepared to help Pakistan meet its defence needs when they are not to be met by its Western patrons, which make very heavy demands, and in return do not give Pakistan the means to defend itself. In view of the Indian threats to Pakistan after the Mumbai carnage, the Chinese help is useful, with China well aware that India is being propped up to rival China. Though China was careful not to say anything against India, that the Talks were held at all is a strong signal from China that India should not ignore.