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Old Saturday, November 10, 2012
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China And Pakistan A Tale of Two Coetaneous Countries



The equation between Pakistan and China is asymmetric. In terms of geography, economy, political structure, size of population and social values and trends China and Pakistan are poles apart. However, with all the existing dissimilarities the two states have carried on a friendly relationship and partnership based on mutual interests. And convergence of interests is what defines Pakistan and China relationship.


This year marks the 65 years of independence of Pakistan. Although a number of accounts present and highlight the state of affairs in Pakistan every year, especially on the Independence Day, it requires a constant reminder to our nation and leaders both to feel blessed that we are independent and also put in collective efforts to do away the political and social ills in order to defend and preserve our independence. Pakistan has been faced with turbulent times since its independence. For past decade, in particular, the country has been strangulated economically, devastated politically and segregated socially. Both internal and external factors are responsible for plunging the country into a total chaos.

There can be varied views and perspectives on the internal factors contributing to frail state of affairs in Pakistan, however; I would like to highlight three important factors that appear to be forming the basis of most of the issues the country is faced with today: Pakistan's colonial past; absence of pluralistic culture and economic inconsistency. Some analysts have tended to argue that the roots of the problems in Pakistan lie in the colonial legacy the country still carries. Pakistan is a post-colonial state and it did inherit structural problems from the British Raj. The political structure was created and defined by the all powerful military-bureaucracy oligarchy (Hamza Alavi 1972). The influence exhibited by the military-bureaucracy, as a consequence, led to non-democratic trends in the newly independent state and society. Subsequently, the process of nation-building suffered to a great extent as pluralistic culture was never allowed to flourish. Nation-building refers to the unity among a nation through national identity and aims for fostering social harmony, economic growth, development and political stability.

The Independence Movement had a clear objective of securing a separate land for the Muslims of the subcontinent. There was an obvious source and a sense of unity prevailing among the people fighting for a separate land. However, that sense of unity was maligned by the problems we inherited in the form of colonial legacy. Authoritarianism influenced pluralistic tendencies which were prevailing in Pakistani society during early two decades following the independence. Also, the leadership never stimulated the sense of unity among the people of Pakistan in order to establish a strong political structure for the welfare of the people. What we have today is a segregated society on the ethnic, linguistic and sectarian lines. Moreover, the country also lacked timely and feasible economic reforms. Till 1960s, Pakistan's economic performance was reasonably well. Two important factors appeared to have cast a shadow on Pakistan's economic performance in 1970s: the disintegration of Pakistan and the international economic crisis.
Three important features form the track of success for China: nation-building; ability to reform economy timely whenever felt necessary; China's objective to counter the superpower. These factors complimented by effective policies and collective efforts have helped China assume the position of an emerging giant in international politics.
In addition to this, a number of external factors have influenced and led to a situation where Pakistan today considered as a failing economy or a failing state. What continues to engage Pakistan on a foreign policy front is its critical equation with India. Only a reference of Pakistan-India troubled relationship here explains that how detrimental this troubled relationship has been to Pakistan's politics and economy. As compared to Pakistan, India being a bigger country not only managed, to a great extent, the colonial legacy and the structural problems it inherited from the British Raj but also sustained the cost of troubled relationship with Pakistan. The influence of extra-regional powers, mainly the United States has also affected Pakistan's politics, economy and society. During cold war, post-cold war and now in post-9/11 era, Pakistan has paid a heavy cost of its alliance to the US. Today, Pakistan is faced with the most critical phase since its independence both at foreign policy and domestic fronts.

Following Pakistan and India, China also secured independence in the wake of a Communist revolution in 1949. The political stability, economic growth, national unity and nation-building in China make the country an exemplary case, especially for Pakistan. The close ally and friend of Pakistan, China has supported and rendered its expertise to Pakistan economically and strategically. What are the factors that contributed to the national unity, political stability and above all fast economic growth in China? Can Pakistan draw some lessons from China? These are the questions that arise if we draw a comparison between Pakistan and China. Before exploring the answers to the above mentioned questions few facts are required to be considered here.

The equation between Pakistan and China is asymmetric. In terms of geography, economy, political structure, size of population and social values and trends China and Pakistan are poles apart. However, with all the existing dissimilarities the two states have carried on a friendly relationship and partnership based on mutual interests. And convergence of interests is what defines Pakistan and China relationship.


To draw lessons from China, we need to look into China's efforts, policies and expertise that contributed to post-revolution political stability and fast economic growth. Three important features form the track of success for China: nation-building; ability to reform economy timely whenever felt necessary; China's objective to counter the superpower. These factors complimented by effective policies and collective efforts have helped China assume the position of an emerging giant in international politics.

The country officially recognises 56 ethnic groups; however, the dominant ethnic group “Han” constitutes 91 per cent population. All the other groups or ethnic identities form the rest of nine per cent population. The “Han” group was advanced, learned and skilled and all the other groups are said to have developed politically, socially and economically around Han group. Keeping in view the centuries of political crisis and tumultuous state of affairs, Chinese nation found its way in unity. The realisation came from within that to fight or stand against odd they are required to be united.
If we wish to draw lessons from China's experience the government and people of Pakistan will have to shun their differences of all kinds and work collectively towards a better tomorrow and a secure future.
China's success and strength lie with its ability to introduce timely economic reforms. The revolutionary and Communist leader Mao Zedong's policies were directed towards centralisation and authoritarianism; however, Deng Xiaoping managed to induce a new life to a country fraught with social, economic and institutional woes. Deng Xiaoping was a reformer and opted for policies that aimed towards decentralisation. He had introduced a number of economic reforms based on self-reliance; the most famous among them was 'open door policy' and transformed Chinese economy from an agricultural to a productive industrial one. Substantial external investments in manufacturing were attracted based on education and cheap and skilled labour. The country has also effectively managed the population burden by demolishing old structures and providing people with austere living space and style. Also, China itself has drawn lessons from Singapore's economic experiences, Japan's industrial policies and the country has also been benefited by adopting an alternative policy to Mao's version of Communism.

The abovementioned key features justify China's nurturing a dream of becoming one of the major powers in the world. Being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the country has developed a sound strategic base and hence formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) along with Russian Federation and six Central Asian Republics. The country, aiming to counter the US economic influence and the policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other financial institutions, has also created an economic alliance with the name of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

Within 63 years of independence and three decades of introducing a series of economic reforms, the country has shown remarkable performance. The country has access to global market for its goods and excels in every kind of product. Now comparing this situation from the one prevailing in Pakistan, a troubled and grim scenario appears. Neither nation-building nor economic reforms introduced by China in the near past seem to be fitting into Pakistan’s case. Nonetheless, China is an example of self motivation, self realization of the significance of unity and continuous struggle to achieve the targeted or set goals.

If we wish to draw lessons from China’s experience the government and people of Pakistan will have to shun their differences of all kinds and work collectively towards a better tomorrow and a secure future.
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