I hail from northern Pakistan and due to its close proximity to the border of western China and its location on the mighty Karakoram Highway i have come across with many Chinese people particularly with those working on KKH expansion and maintenance project. When i was a school going child in my village we used to chant this slogan loudly.
(Pak-China Dosti zindabad), this fact cannot be denied by any Pakistani that the relationship between Pakistan and China is very strong and often we use a famous metaphor “our friendship is higher than mountains and deeper than sea” to describe this friendship.
After many years there are many issues roused which always drags my attention and urge me to think about this relation again and again.
Before putting some blame on Pak-China’s relation lets go back to the history and collect some facts and figure and I’m optimistic that I will come to know the reason which makes this relation stronger chronically.
When Pakistan gained independence in 1947, China was locked in civil war between the Nationalist government and communist rebels. The war ended in October 1949, with a victory for the communists, led by Mao Zedong. At that time our motherland Pakistan was trying to establish itself as an independent country on the globe and took little interest in what was happening in china.
- There was no any chance in the beginning for the Islamic republic of Pakistan to make close allies with a communist country. However, in the 1990s the relations improved and the conflict between China and India on border dispute becomes the reason. That time USA was putting oil on fire and was interested to help India in any stand it made against communist China; this made Pak-China relationship stronger. It was March 1962; they start to settle their own border disputes in friendly environment. After one year in 1963 they successfully completed the settlement and the Government of China made more concessions than the Pakistanis, as they were interested to win hearts across the border. Since then Pakistan and China have singed many agreements of mutual interest. Pakistan and China entered into an agreement to boost trade of both countries. Under this agreement China has provided interest free loan to Pakistan.
- China has also helped Pakistan in production of arms and ammunition counter the increasing aggression of India in the region.
- In August, 1963 PIA became the first international carrier ever to operate in certain Chinese cities. These regular flights helped to increase movement and trade between the two countries.
- In 1964 China made a statement to support Pakistan’s policy in Kashmir. In return, Pakistan supported China’s entry into the United Nation. It is said that time United States of America was supporting Taiwan as the legitimate ruler of China, because it was Nationalist and China was communist country.
- In 1965, during the war with India our neighbour country supplied military aid to Pakistan and put India in diplomatic pressure by warning India to not attack on Pakistani troops.
- In February 1972, Bhutto visited China and it was agreed that many of the loans previously made by China to Pakistan should become grants. China also agreed to supply military aircraft and tanks.
- The friendly relations between the two countries were highlighted in 1978 when the Karakorum Highway opened. This was the first major road built between the two countries. It had been largely financed by Chinese money and built by its engineers. It followed the old silk route through which Chinese goods had originally come to rest of Asia.
This was a short recap of the history that why and when Pakistan and China became friends. Indeed, my aim was not to give flashback to the history. I will go ahead by making the last agreement (KKH) between Pak-China my topic. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Karakorum High way touches my valley because I am living in the heart of Karakorum mountain range in the extreme north of Pakistan. I am not denying with the advantages and profit we took and get from this Highway and off Couse it is one of the main sources of income in my area, but need to give a bird eye view on the greatest social problems we are facing and have to face in the future.
Currently, Chinese companies are working on KKH maintenance and expansion project. For this thousands of skilled and semi-skilled labours were also brought from China to work on the project. With the arrival of Chinese labour some social issues also start emerging in the region. For instance, many youth got involved in drug abuse especially in Alcohol. This was because of easy access to these drugs as the Chinese labours have started selling it to the youth. This is worrying and alarming situation for the community. The law enforcement agencies and local police could play effective role to curb the increasing drug abuse among youth. But unfortunately, police are also involved in these activities. Youth groups and students associations have to play their role to address these issues. In such cases community based law proved more effective. In some villages, village committees are playing effective role. We all need to work together and strengthen our community based institutions to fight these all type social evils.
I am optimistic that the Govt- of Gilgit-Baltistan will take notice of this important issue and will work on it by banning drugs across the area.