Pakistan’s relations with China, welcome and time-tested as these are, need to be seen and understood in terms of Beijing’s linkages with other countries especially the ones located in our neighborhood.

In this context Chinese relationship with India and Afghanistan merits serious attention.

The new Chinese Prime Minister’s first foreign visit was to India.

PM Li Keqiang spent three days in India and two in Pakistan. His visit came soon after peaceful conditions were restored on a border dispute between China and India; the dispute though remains to be settled.

Some of the highlights of the two Prime Ministers’ formal talks and press briefing in New Delhi as recorded by NDTV were: 

PM Manmohan Singh:

i    World has enough space to accommodate growth aspirations of both of our people.

i    Special representatives will meet soon seeking early agreement for fair, reasonable         and mutually acceptable boundary settlement.

i    Glad that we have agreed to extend cooperation on trans-border rivers.

i    Invited increased Chinese involvement in India's infrastructure and manufacturing sectors.

i    Must build greater trust which will permit much larger cooperation.

Premier Li Keqiang:

i    Most Important outcomes that leaders of the two countries have reached are

    strategic consensus, which has deepened our strategic trust.

i    Amicable relations between India and China will be a positive thing for Asia and

    good ties will provide new engines for world economy.

i    Won't deny there are problems between the two sides.

i    We have wisdom to resolve these issues and overcome our differences.

i    The two governments have reached a joint statement that covers 5 major areas.

i    The two sides will discuss and explore ways for trade liberalization.

i    The two sides have agreed to jointly explore PCIM economic corridor, will be able

    to increase connectivity between East Asia and South Asia.

i    We have agreed to increase communication on major international and regional

    issues and in the United Nations.

Ten Top Points From Their Joint Statement (NDTV): 

Both sides reaffirmed mutual sensitivities for each other's concerns and aspirations.

Both countries view each other as partners for mutual benefit and not as rivals or competitors.

India and China consider the potential for a bilateral Regional Trade Arrangement and review the state of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

While striving to realise the trade turnover target of $100 billion by 2015, the two countries agreed to take measures to address the issue of the trade imbalance.

The Chinese side shall provide greater facilitation to Indian pilgrims for the Gang Renpoche and Mapam Yun Tso Pilgrimage (Kailash Manasarovar Yatra).

Two sides agreed to consult the other parties with a view to establishing a Joint Study Group on strengthening connectivity in the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) region.

The leaders expressed satisfaction over the work done so far by special representatives of the two countries on the boundary question and encouraged them to push forward the process of negotiations and seek a framework for a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement in accordance with the agreement on political parameters and guiding principles.

Two sides shall work together to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas in line with the previous agreements.

The two sides will further strengthen cooperation on trans-border rivers.

Support for an "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned" reconciliation process.

Picking up the last point pertaining to Afghanistan, an important article has been penned by the Director of Indian Development Cooperation Research and a visiting fellow at, Centre for Policy Research, Rani D. Mullen in the Indian Express under the caption: From Beijing to Kabul. The writer is of the view that the visits to India by the Chinese PM Mr. Li Keqiang and Afghanistan President Mr. Hamid Karzai provide for “a great opening for Indian foreign policy in its neighborhood, an opportunity not to be missed”.

And what is this opportunity? “Not since 1962, Sino-India war has the potential of the India-China been based on so much common interest”. With the 2014 departure of American/Nato troops and the recent Afghanistan—Pakistan tensions, India’s relationship with Afghanistan takes on a “new urgency”. Nowhere says Rani, is the common cause of India and China were apparent than in Afghanistan”. India and China “with their respective iron-ore, copper mining and crude oil product contracts are the largest foreign investors in Afghanistan”. India has already committed $2 billion. Also both India and China entertain worries about the Afghanistan falling into the hands of extremists. There could be an impact of East Turkistan Islamic Movement in China’s Western Province.

Now is the time, according to the Indian analyst, for India to convince China for a common course and build up a common strategy to “ring-fence” Pakistani attempts to gain influence in Afghanistan. “Not unconnected”, Mr. Karzai was on his 12th visit to India to invoke the strategic partnership agreement with New Delhi, this time also wanting supplies of arms and ammunition including artillery and air craft.

India’s influence in Afghanistan has been increasing with the passage of time. New Delhi has invested a lot to build hospitals, roads, other important buildings and has for quite some time working on an alternative export route for Afghanistan developing Iran’s Chahbahar seaport.

There has been a lot of talk and write-ups in Pakistan about the making of a new foreign policy and a revised security strategy.

It is important for the new government to take cognizance of the new developments taking place in its neighborhood such as the one cited above to safeguard national interests in the days to come.

Karzai’s cozying up with the Indians and his tirades against Pakistan need to be taken seriously. It is also necessary to develop a deeper understanding of US-India strategic partnership and their designs in the region and beyond. China, too has further to closely watch USA’s shift of the “pivot” to the pacific ocean to contain it along with its allies and co-workers including India.

China is our major and most reliable friend. We have to equip ourselves to make the most of this relationship. Besides economic ties and security support we have to build up the sinews of cultural relations. Scares of educational and specialized institutional programmes need to be started and reciprocal initiatives forged between the two countries. Economics and security need to be underpinned by educational and cultural exchanges. It is also highly desirable to have a number of think-tanks specifically related to China and the regional affairs.

The writer is a PhD in Information Technology, alumni of King’s College London and a social activist. He is life member of the Pakistan Engineering Council and senior international editor for IT Insight Magazine. He has authored two books titled Understanding Telecommunications and Living In The Grave and several research papers.