The government seems to have woken up to what many observers had been suggesting for some time now: When it comes to building a strategic partnership, China is a much better choice for Pakistan than the US. This is obvious; as natural as water flowing from the hills to the plain. It is also obvious that, given the conflicting interests of China and the US in the region and their essentially different worldviews, we cannot boogie with both and will have to make a clear choice. Pakistan must disentangle itself from the deathly parasitic clutches of the global bully to embrace a brotherly neighbour. Together, the two truly friendly countries could contribute towards creating a better world, a world that is at peace and where countries strive for mutual prosperity through cooperation. The current US-made model for the globe is very different, thriving on war and exploitative acquisition of resources of weaker states. We should know by now that our future could only be very dark in its unscrupulous scheme of things, that we could only lose the violent scavenging games it plays with sharpened teeth and extended claws. For the less than couple of billion dollars of bad aid, if we continue to play to its destructive tunes, things would only get worse and we will never be able to establish durable peace in our neighbourhood. Peace does not play a role in the US script for the region or, for that matter, the world. If there were any doubts about the poisonous US-Pak relationship, they should be cleared by the recent US posturing around its clandestine and unlawful Abbottabad operation and the persistent drone attacks, despite strong requests, protests and warnings from a battered ally. The message from our superpower ally is that we should consider ourselves as good as occupied, thank the US for the less than couple of billion dollars of bad aid that we get and, in our gratitude, do exactly as we are told. As if we have not seen what happens in countries occupied by the US, where the global bully calls the shots. Afghanistan and our tribal areas are no isolated cases, the power-drunk USA, in its short history as the unchallenged superpower, has trespassed many parts of the world like a trigger-happy cowboy. In Afghanistan, the US started using war as a policy much before 9/11 happened. Though its military was not directly involved, it created with the help of its middle-eastern monarch-allies a crop of militant extremists, provided them weapons, training and strategy through the CIA-ISI nexus, and financed the jihad through illicit heroin production and trade under the free world umbrella. Today, its direct and heavy multi-layered involvement under the AfPak strategy spells disaster for the entire region. For the less than couple of billion dollars of bad aid that it injects in our military and economy like a narcotic, making us numb and dependent, the US would like us to assist it in its designs and sit helplessly watching it destroy the fabric of the state and nation of Pakistan under the garb of controlling terrorism. Even for hundreds of billions of dollars, this is a bad deal. When the US sees us seriously cosying up to China, it might tone down its threatening rhetoric, agree to release a few more million dollars and might even halt the drone strikes, just to trick us back into its strangling hold. But let there be no mistake about the temporary nature of these duplicitous tactics. Unless there is a revolution in the US, the actual gameplan would not change; such are the compulsions of the perverse economy of the global bully and its multi-billion dollar intelligence and war machines, sustained by the death and destruction of other peoples and their countries. China is gaining strength as a sobering influence in world affairs due to its policy of peace and cooperation; creating mutually beneficial relationships with countries all over the world and sincerely working for resolution of conflicts. Its durable and positive relationship with Pakistan is a model of good neighbourly relations. It does not make hollow promises and play divisive games with our civil and military leadership. It does not employ financial traps to retard our development like the US and the evil international financial institutions under its control, crippling us on the pretext of helping us stand on our feet. China, on the other hand, has always made us stronger and shown through its words and deeds that it is a friend indeed. Like Pakistan, a war in the neighbourhood is the last thing it needs. The joint statement issued at the end of Prime Minister Gilani's China visit provides pointers for a peaceful and prosperous region. The two countries agreed to strengthen communication and coordination in regional affairs, particularly on Afghanistan. By including other immediate neighbours of Afghanistan, and curbing the nefarious involvement of hegemons like the NATO allies and India, China could lead the effort for a settlement of the war-torn country that puts the Afghan people before any other considerations. After all, the countries bordering Afghanistan are the most important stakeholders of peace in the country. With a clear stake in controlling extremism in the region that threatens to spill over to its territory, China's cooperation to end terrorism in Pakistan could be far more productive than the US role that has literally created the monster and continues to stoke its dangerous fire. The joint statement indicates that cooperation in defence, infrastructure development, energy and agriculture are to be intensified. But perhaps the most significant dividend of the deepening relationship, second only to coordination on regional affairs, would accrue in the form of cooperation in financial and banking sectors. In fact, China's initiatives for breaking the monopoly of dollar and its spurious exchange rate mechanism could lead to the liberation of developing countries held hostage by a worthless phantom, a fictitious tool perfected to shape a poor reality for billions of people in the world. The new era of intensified multi-faceted strategic Pak-China cooperation could lead to a better future, not only for the two countries but also for the region and the world at large. The only choice for Pakistan is to break out of its dependent client-state mode and embrace China with a vision to create self-reliance. The will to take the leap is visible. It is now important for the leadership in Pakistan to get over its slavish past, of being addicted to the opium of dependence, and open its eyes to the rich potential of our land and the tremendous mutually beneficial possibilities that China offers. We must ensure that we bring our share of strength to the friendship. Otherwise, it would do us no good to replace one master with another. The writer is a freelance columnist.