There are allies, temporary bedfellows and all-weather friends. They serve different requirements in the life of a country, though the last named would normally be considered pretty special. That is why the China take-down of its most special all-weather friend caused a bit of a flutter.
A recent documentary on China’s state television highlighted the role of Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Toiba and its sponsors in the Mumbai massacres of November 26, 2008. But to confound picture somewhat, China opposes India’s application to nuclear suppliers’ group while it seems to support Pakistan’s case for entry. But the contradictions are a passing phase. There is no enigma here. For one thing, China has a $46-billion plan (the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) to bind the two closer than ever, centred on Gwadar port. Also, right now China is Islamabad’s one durable ally.
Its equation with the US is in jeopardy over its double dealing in the war on terror. Moreover, America’s strategic bet on India is starting to flower as a long, passionate affair. The re-balancing could lead to a reduction in Pakistan’s status. So it has no option but to embrace Beijing even if that means submitting to the occasional tutorial. China may also have aired the documentary as an oblique warning against enacting 26/11 scenarios in its restive Xinjiang province.