Defence and Diplomacy

By Raja G Mujtaba

The relations between China and Pakistan are as old as the Sino-Indus Valley civilization. In olden times it was mainly trade along the silk route that has now been replaced with Karakoram Highway. The construction of this highway in itself was the manifestation of a friendship that has stood the rigours of time.  When Pakistan accorded formal recognition to China,  it was subjected to harsh embargos that severely affected Pakistan’s economic and military buildup but at the same time these embargos proved to be like a blessing in disguise. This not only opened other avenues for us but also compelled us to acquire our own capabilities to a greater strength.

When the US placed embargos on Pakistan, China opened all its gates to Pakistan. Though in 1965, her own technology was restricted to world war II vintage based on the Russian know how but still it offered all that it had. Initially it provided everything free of cost or at such low prices that was not even peanuts when compared to the prices and strings of the west.

Major General Roshan Ejaz narrated that after 1965 war a military delegation went to China with its shopping list. The delegation was received by Mao Zedong who was a great leader and a statesman showered this delegation with a fatherly affection. During the meeting he told the Pakistan delegation that every product of China is open to Pakistan, they can take whatever they want nothing shall be refused but he also cautioned the delegation saying, “relations between states can never be permanent therefore manufacture your own equipments even if these are from wood.” Thereafter a defence production program was initiated in Pakistan in almost every field. Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Heavy Rebuild Factory for tanks and Heavy Mechanical Complex were just a few of the projects that were initiated with Chinese assistance both in capital outlay and technology transfer.

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Cultural exchanges, science and technology that also included the space research, nuclear cooperation in which various nuclear reactors were installed and more are in the pipeline.  In brief there is no field that does not have Chinese participation in one way or the other. For the past sometime naval crafts are also being built under mutual programe.

Prime Minister Chu en lai would visit Pakistan so frequently that his absence was never felt.  Those were the leaders who laid the foundation. Of course on this side it was Ayub Khan who was ably assisted by Qudrat Ullah Shab, Altaf Gauhar and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

For the convenience of the readers, video clippings of TV programme Defence and Diplomacy by S. M. Hali are attached in which he is interviewing Mr Masood Khan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China where he discusses in detail the present level of cooperation between the two countries.