Pasha heading to China as tensions rise with US


In the backdrop of Pakistan’s strained relations with the United States, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt General Ahmad Shuja Pasha is proceeding to China on an important visit to strengthen Islamabad’s friendly ties with Beijing.
“General Pasha is leaving for China very soon as a part of Pakistan’s contingency plan aimed at cementing ties with the old friendly nation in case relations with the United States, which are already under duress, are strained further and the deadlock can’t be done away with,” said an official source here, who asked not to be identified by name. He declined to give the exact dates of Pasha’s visit, saying: “Soon, very soon and he might be even on his way to China now but that’s not important, it’s the visit that’s significant keeping in view our historic friendly ties with the neighboring state.”
This will be Pasha’s second visit to China after the May 2 covert operation by US special forces in Abbottabad to kill al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. The bin Laden episode had led to a brief suspension of Pak-US counter-terrorism cooperation, which is still to be fully restored. The US authorities, who did not take Islamabad into confidence over the covert raid, also suspended military assistance worth $800 million to Islamabad, a move that further harmed bilateral ties.
The Pakistani leadership was perturbed by steps taken by the US administration and the civilian and military leaders decided it was time to get closer to China and enhance the bilateral ties in the defence sector to decrease dependence on US assistance. “Before General Pasha, another senior military officer, Chief of General Staff Lt General Waheed Arshad, also visited China recently as part of Islamabad’s strategy of moving closer to China. In coming days, we will see more such visits and high-level interactions between the two friendly states,” the source said.