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Pakistan says cosying up with West will not affect ties with China

BEIJING, November 17 (Internews): China-Pakistan relations will not be
 affected by Islamabad's alliance with the United States-led international anti terrorism coalition and improved ties with the West.
 "China will continue to enjoy the highest priority in Pakistan's foreign
 policy," Islamabad's Ambassador to Beijing Riaz Khokhar said in an
 exclusive interview with China Daily. "We will never allow this
 relationship to be affected by our relations with either the US or any
 other country."
 The envoy said Sino-Pak relationship is a problem-free model of
 interaction in international relations between two countries with
 different social, political and economic systems.
 "History has proved that Pakistan can maintain good relations with China
 and the West simultaneously," Khokhar said, adding that the early contacts in the normalisation of Sino-US relations was facilitated by Pakistan.
 The ambassador also referred to the forthcoming visit of President
 Pervez Musharraf to China and said its purpose is to pay tribute to the
 five-decade-long fruitful and mutually beneficial relations between the
 two countries and to strengthen it further in the 21st century.
 Regarding the thawing of Pakistan-US relations, the Ambassador said,
 "The September 11 terrorist attacks have once again brought Islamabad
 and Washington closer together in a fight against a common enemy of
 mankind, i.e., terrorism."
 Commenting on the future of a post-Taliban Afghanistan, he said Pakistan
 believes that peace in Afghanistan can be achieved through the
 establishment of a broad-based government in which all ethnic groups are
 represented as per their demographic composition.
 "Pakistan's decision to join the US-led anti-terrorism coalition was based on a number of considerations. After the Sept 11 incident, anti-terrorism has become a topic of consensus in the international community," he said.
 "Pakistan risks the danger of being accused of supporting terrorism and
 damaging its relationship with the global community if it stubbornly
 refuses to cooperate," Khokhar explained.
 The United States, he reminded, has suggested that its military strikes
 could possibly be expanded to other countries that support terrorism.
 "Then Pakistan also considered the attitudes of Russia and China, both
 of which have pledged their support for the anti-terrorism campaign,"
 Khokhar pointed out.
 The ambassador went on to say that Pakistan allowed the US to use its
 air space and extend logistics support and consequently, Islamabad's
 relations with Western countries, especially the United States, have
 been improving rapidly.
 The US lifted economic sanctions against Pakistan and India, imposed
 after the two countries conducted nuclear tests in 1998, shortly after
 they agreed to offer help.
 Last week, President Musharraf made a whirlwind tour of Britain, France
 and the United States. Pakistan is now referred to in major Western
 media as a 'key ally of the US.'
 "Under such circumstances, many naturally wonder if Pakistan's warmer
 relations with the West, especially the US, will shake its traditionally
 close relations with China and shift the emphasis of Pakistan's foreign
 towards the West," the ambassador conceded.
 He, however, assured that there was no question of any shift in Pakistan's foreign policy.
 "Pak-China relations are deep rooted and time tested, which have successfully weathered all vicissitudes in the international environment over the past 50 years," he added. -Internews

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