Call it a show of strength, Islamabad has been flamboyant about its relationship with China. A look at the streets and you would know what we mean. Huge posters with the pictures of Nawaz Sharif and President Xi Jinping, reading out captions like "is higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, sweeter than honey, and stronger than steel" adorn the roads.
"This will be my first trip to Pakistan, but I feel as if I am going to visit the home of my own brother," said Xi before the visit.
A declaration as strong as that on the very first Chinese diplomatic visit in 9 years sent shockwaves in India and US. While US has gradually pulled itself out of Pakistan, the latter found solace in China. Ironically, apart from sharing a border, both the countries do not share cultural ties.
Evidently, the Pakistan visit was political. But what did China see in Pakistan that was lacking in India?
Pakistan is a volatile neighborhood, with an unpredictable attitude towards war. Armed with nuclear power, China may be pinning its hope on Pakistan to show India its place economically and in military strength. Be it the border issue in Arunachal Pradesh or Leh-ladakh area, China has always been in tussle with India and there seems to be no solution to the crisis in these areas.
Considering this, and the fact that the Modi government had offered a hand of friendship made it more difficult for China to attack India directly. The only region that would be ready to launch a nuclear war against India would be Pakistan.
The partnership between Russia, Pakistan and China has always bothered the world, especially the US. With the military power withdrawn from Pakistan, US is now vulnerable at the hands of its own creator.
The vacant spot has now been handed over to Russia and China-both US haters. On second thoughts, one can observe a reiteration of the World War scenario, where the Russia-China-Pakistan wage war against the allied powers. However, the only difference this time is that the target would be India and USA.
'Border'-line friendship and China's strategic footprint
The $46 billion Chinese funding in Pakistan for the ambitious 3,000-km-long China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will shorten the Chinese energy routefrom the Middle East by close to 12,000 km. In fact, this project will not be restricted to the energy route and expand the visibility of China in the Indian Ocean, hence changing the regional power matrix forever. With a presence surrounding the Indian subcontinent in the East, west and north west (with a nuclear ally Pakistan) and down south in the Indian waters, India could be a vulnerable target.
Agends and the lack of it in India
With a presence all over Pakistan, China may have access to the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, making it more pervasive and powerful. With a little risk of terrorism pouring in from the porous borders of Pakistan, China can now aim to corner India from all sides.
Moreover, with the increasing inclination of India towards the US and vice versa, and their anti-terrorism slogans, China had no better option that Pakistan that had an inherent hatred for both the countries. With little ground work and a whole lot of investment, China has an easy bait in Pakistan, luring it for economic development, in turn funding the jihadis against US and India.
All China has to care about is sanitise its own borders and wait for the showstopper.