Meanwhile, India concerned about submarine sales to Islamabad.
ISLAMABAD: Acknowledging the effectiveness of the military’s counterterrorism offensive in North Waziristan Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping has termed the result of Operation Zarb-e-Azb a ‘game changer’ for peace and stability in the region.President Xi arrived in Islamabad on Monday on a two-day visit, which has assumed ‘strategic significance’ in the backdrop of the complex and changing international and regional situations.
The Chinese leader praised Pakistan’s fight against terrorism during a meeting with the top military leadership, including Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif and the naval and air chiefs.
According to the military’s media wing, the ISPR, President Xi appreciated Pakistan’s resolve against terrorists. “It will contribute to the country’s economic development,” he added. He vowed to stand by Pakistan in its efforts to defeat terrorism.
The military leadership briefed Xi on the progress made in Zarb-e-Azb, said a security official.
Beijing is said to be closely watching Pakistan’s fight against terrorism, as the operation is also aimed at dismantling the ‘safe havens’ of militants linked with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which seeks a separate state for the Muslim minority in north-western China.
The security official said that during his meeting with the services chiefs, President Xi discussed defence and security cooperation between the two countries.
India ‘upset’ over Xi visit
While China plans to pump tens of billions of dollars into Pakistan to build roads, rail links and power plants, it is also rumoured to be finalising a deal to sell eight state-of-the-art submarines to Pakistan.
Although there is no official confirmation of the two countries discussing the ‘submarine deal’ during the Chinese president’s visit, the possibility has already perturbed the neighbouring India.
The induction of eight submarines will allow Pakistan to have a ‘second-strike capability’ in the presence of India’s ‘Cold Start Doctrine’ that seeks swift action in the event of any conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
Leading Indian media outlets have commented on President Xi’s visit to Pakistan and its likely implications for the region.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, the Indian naval chief said New Delhi was keeping an eye on the growing military cooperation between China and Pakistan.
“We have our eyes firmly set on waters of interest around us. The navy is a multi-dimensional combat force and we are looking at all aspects related to sea control and sea denial amid the unfolding developments in the region,” Admiral Robin Dhowan was quoted as saying.
The paper noted that India has rapidly modernised its navy in recent years but still lags behind the Chinese navy, which operates close to 60 submarines, including nuclear-powered attack and ballistic missile submarines. It is also preparing to commission three more advanced nuclear-powered attack submarines.
Last week Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had also cautioned against Pakistan Navy’s expansion becoming ‘a weakness in India’s armour of controlling the ocean’.
The deepening strategic and defence cooperation between Pakistan and China is also seen as an effort by Beijing to counter any negative fallout of the United States’ growing ties with India.
Earlier this year, President Barrack Obama had visited India, where the two countries signed several pacts, including the long-delayed nuclear deal. The deepening Indo-US ties are considered by many observers as an attempt to curtail the rise of China, which over the past few years has significantly grown both economically and militarily.
US role ‘declining’
With China’s plans to invest billions of dollars over the next few years, America’s role in Pakistan is likely to decline considerably.
The New York Times, which often reflects the policies of the US administration, noted that the most striking thing about Xi’s visit was the scale of his aid announcement compared with the American effort from 2009 to 2012.
The programme designated $7.5 billion for development projects over five years. That effort was a ‘dramatic failure’ because the resources were scattered too thinly, and had no practical or strategic impact, said David S Sedney, a former senior official at the Pentagon responsible for Pakistan during that period.
The Chinese appear to have learned from the US programme, including the notion that the American plan was designed to deliver a strategic result – deterring terrorism – but failed to do so, said Sedney.
But analysts here say the Chinese investment may have provided a huge opportunity for Pakistan, but the real test lies in its implementation and how Islamabad ensures law and order on a route stretching from Gwadar to Kashgar. “We have to make sure that all decisions taken during the Chinese president’s visit are fully implemented,” emphasised Jahangir Ashraf Qazi, Pakistan’s former ambassador to China.