Islamabad: Alarmed by the growing Indo-US defence ties, Pakistan’s cabinet has given the go-ahead for negotiating a long-term defence agreement and security cooperation with its all-weather ally China, a media report said today.
Pakistan’s cabinet in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on July 15 at the Governor House in Lahore gave the go-ahead for negotiating a long-term defence agreement with China, The Express Tribune reported.
The cabinet considered the summary to initiate negotiations on a draft agreement between Pakistan and China on a long-term strategic framework agreement for enhancing defence and security cooperation in diversified fields.
The cabinet held detailed discussions on the proposed agreement before giving the nod of approval, the report said.
The cabinet was informed that the draft agreement was based on principles of mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, non-integration and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and cooperation for mutual benefits, and peaceful coexistence for strategic gains in defence and security, including arms and technology transfers.
It was also informed that input from ministries of foreign affairs, interior and defence production as well as the Joint Staff Headquarters had been obtained and incorporated in the draft agreement which was subsequently vetted by the law and justice division.
In April 2015, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan, the two countries agreed that their relationship had acquired greater strategic significance against the backdrop of complex and changing international and regional situations.
They agreed to elevate the Pakistan-China relationship to the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.
The reports of defence agreement surfaced a week after the US signed a key logistics agreement with India governing the use of each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply.
Pakistan had called the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement between the US and India as an agreement between the two sovereign states and hoped it would contribute to peace and stability.
“Pakistan would like to see that such arrangements do not contribute to polarising the region by disturbing the strategic balance in South Asia and escalating the arms buildup,” Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told a news briefing on Thursday.
In 2011, the then prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani had expressed a desire to sign a defence deal with China during a trip to Beijing.
At that time, the Chinese leadership advised Pakistan against such an agreement fearing that it might create a strain in Islamabad’s and Beijing’s relations with both Washington and New Delhi, the report said.
Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry recently informed the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence that Pakistan’s growing strategic partnership with China was one of the main reasons behind the current strain in its ties with the US.
The US was probably upset with the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, according to him.