For Pakistan, Premier Wen Jiabaos visit was like a whole gas cylinder of fresh air to a patient gasping for breath. The tone of the visit was refreshingly different from the awesome dirge of our so-called allies to do more, and its substance removed any doubts that the logical strategic partner for Pakistan is its friendly neighbour China and not the global bully USA. Clearly, there is a need for some basic realignment of our foreign policy and working more closely with China, building upon the multi-faceted, mutually beneficial and durable relationship. There is one problem though. Pakistans governing elite, infiltrated and corrupted by the sole superpower and its associated interests, could possibly drag its feet rather than take this leap that promises a bright future for not only Pakistan but the entire region. It is important to ensure that the petty personal interests of our decision-makers do not create any hurdles in the immediate deepening of this time-tested friendship. While it is obvious that a reorientation in favour of a strategic partnership with China would benefit Pakistan and its people, it might not be that easy. For after all, the Chinese hand for friendship has remained extended all these years, even as our leaders were busy running after their arrogant imperial masters with a little carrot and a big stick. Premier Wen Jiabaos visit has brought to the fore the clear difference between friendship and fraud in the name of friendship. His unqualified support for Pakistan, as a responsible and important country of the region, contrasts sharply with the US doubletalk consistently raising doubts about the role Pakistan is playing in the region. The agreements and MOUs worth $25 billion signed between the two countries promise the much needed development that Pakistan needs as compared to the manipulative aid and loans that are designed to push the interests and agendas of the donors and do little for the country they are supposed to help. Pakistan has been consistently short-changed by its US-led allies, pursuing their short-sighted and narrowly defined interests in the region with no concern for how their policies affect the country and its people. Their tight-fisted injections of bilateral aid and loans through the international financial institutions they control are designed to make Pakistan more dependent on them and hence give them more leverage to arm-twist it. They expect Pakistan to fight their wars like a mercenary on meagre wages and have no qualms about weakening its position in the neighbourhood. After adopting India, they are actively propelling the unscrupulous regional bully to the status of a regional power. The leaders of our so-called allies do not miss an opportunity to badmouth and warn Pakistan, while on their friendly visits to India. There is reason to believe that they are facilitating Indian missions in Afghanistan to foment trouble in Balochistan and FATA. Of course, such a strategically important country could not be treated so shoddily without the complicity of those in charge of our destiny. This tendency on part of our governing elite to act as puppets in the hands of their imperial masters is a chronic condition and the biggest hurdle in the formulation of a national perspective on development, economy, foreign policy and practically everything under the sun. Beholden to their dubious progress founded on acquisition of resources of others, and exploitation, oppression and murder of people, they continue to colonise on various fraudulent pretexts, while our decision-makers listen to their dishonest analyses of our problems as if hypnotised, and implement the cunning remedies they offer, actually their tools of enslavement, as if they were divinely ordained. Pakistani decision-makers are the other side of the perverse equation. With the contrast so stark, and the difference so obvious, why should it be so difficult for our leaders to disengage from the suffocating embrace of an unscrupulous ally to shake the hands of a genuine friend? Weaned on subservience, dependence and commissions, and with their political, financial and cultural orientation so intrinsically tied up with their western masters, it is going to be a bit of an effort for our governing elite to embark upon this new path that could bring independence, peace, prosperity and dignity to the Pakistani nation. It is an effort that theyll have to make though, even in face of scary withdrawal symptoms that are likely to accompany this major policy shift. Our US-led allies are bound to try their best to thwart closer cooperation between Pakistan and China on regional and international issues. An instalment of the Coalition Support Fund stuck for months has been released to make the carrot look bigger. They are already speaking with a softer tone. They are bound to unleash financial pressure if such trickery doesnt work. The Pakistani leadership must not fall into their trap, and focus on strengthening its relationship with China. It is clear that some choices will have to be made, as a close strategic partnership between Pakistan and China does not figure in the script written for the region by the international establishment of western governments, the international financial institutions and the corporations they serve. The script aims to isolate China in its own neighbourhood, and a strategic partnership with Pakistan could upset these plans. Considering that Pakistan has no place in the script of the international establishment, or is accommodated as a weak denuclearised client state at best, it makes sense for us to counter it as well. And this is the understanding that must underpin the reorientation of our policy. We must see through the smokescreen of an alliance that aims at cutting us down to size eventually after using us for whatever tactical purposes, and developing a foothold in the country to engineer instability and control and direct local politics. Our decision-makers will have to overcome their colonial hangover and make a clearheaded assessment of our national priorities. It is not that difficult in the present situation to understand who our friend is and who are the wolves pretending to be grandma. The time for the policy shift is now and that might involve drilling some sense and responsibility in our leaders, and in case they refuse to change their slavish ways, to change them and bring in those who understand their responsibilities and put the national interest above their petty personal gains.