n Ghani Jafar It has long been customary for the leadership of Pakistan and China to keep coining ever more laudatory terms of endearment to describe their friendship. In fact, during his visit to Islamabad last December, the Chinese Premier elevated his countrys ties with Pakistan from the status of friendship to the kinship of 'brothers. That is welcome since the Chinese have so far proven to be our only friend in need, much as we have been to them. This year marks the completion of three scores of the establishment of diplomatic relations with China, which the two sides are through official and mutual agreement celebrating as the 'Year of Friendship by arranging a series of festive as well as working events in both the countries till the end of 2011. A health check, however, brings out anything, but a satisfactory report. Before proceeding any further, it is important to identify the area of concern here. The strongest pillar of our alliance with China stands on a bedrock of military cooperation that, as I pleasantly learned during participation in a two-day international forum held biennially by the China Association of Military Science eloquently titled The Xiangshan (Chinese: elevated thinking) Forum last October, continues to gain strength by the day. No worries on that score. It is the political dimension of the relationship that is coming under increasing stress - and, as in most such crises that do not require any enemy, we alone are responsible for that. For those not well versed with the Chinese system of governance, it is the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC, made up of 204 members) where ultimate power rests. All important decisions about internal and external affairs of the Peoples Republic of China are taken by this apex body. The official designations of Hu Jintao, known to many of us as the Chinese President, are, firstly, the General Secretary of the CPC; secondly, a member of the Standing Committee (the highest decision making group of nine) of Political Bureau (comprising 25 individuals); and thirdly, the Chairman Central Military Commission (with four Vice Chairmen, and another eight members). It has been considered necessary to include this primer to the Chinese government to emphasis that, foreign as the idea may remain to most Pakistanis, it is a political party - and not the army - with a membership of 73.36 million at the last published count of 2007 that actually calls the shots in the land of our neighbour just across the mighty Karakorum range. Speaking for his party, a Chinese friend tells me that they fail to see any logic in Pakistans reneging on its contract entered into on December 21, 2008, to buy 75 diesel electric locomotives from the Peoples Republic, and has in revocation of that floated an international tender for procurement of 150 American diesel electric locomotives in May 2010 (the tender has so far not been opened due to pending court proceedings). The worrisome consequence of this betrayal of our only consistent friend in Pakistans close vicinity is that we now find the much-hyped energy and trade corridor linking, the Gwadar Port, on our southern flank of the Arabian Sea with Chinas near-most province of Xingjian and on all the way to that countrys vast stretch to its eastern coastline in a state of suspended animation. My friend tells me Beijing could upgrade the passage through the Karakorum Highway to enable a railway link between Havelian and Kashgar, and also the two-way traffic of heavy-load containers, in just a couple of months should Islamabad stop playing games. Are we prepared to pay the price of estranging the Peoples Republic of China in these increasingly interesting times in our part of the world? Would the federal government allow itself to continue getting blackmailed by one of its members in the political alliance, allegedly benefiting from the deal on the purchase of the American diesel electric locomotives, which ironically, claims to be a legatee of the selfless legacy of that Grand Old Man of the Frontier, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan? Mind you, it is the Communist Party of China that is in charge of the affairs there. Would somebody take note? n The writer is a senior journalist currently working as Director/Editor at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). The views expressed in this article are of the writer. Email: ghanijafar@yahoo.co.uk