China and Pakistan, jolted by Karachi attack that killed Chinese, vow stronger military and security ties
- Chinese General Zhang Youxia and Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa look to shore up relationship and safeguard common interests
- After Chinese deaths in Dasu and Karachi attacks, China urged Pakistan to improve security for Chinese nationals in the country
In a meeting with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, General Zhang Youxia, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, also said China would also “strengthen communication … enhance cooperation, deepen pragmatic exchanges, properly address complex factors in the regional situation and promote deeper relations between the two militaries”, according to the Chinese defence ministry.
In response, Bajwa, the most senior officer in the Pakistan Army, told Zhang his country’s “friendship with China is unbreakable and rock solid” and his country would always stand firmly with China regardless of changes in the international and regional situation.
Pakistan was also looking to improve cooperation in counterterrorism with China among its efforts “to deal with various security challenges, safeguard the common interests of both countries and contribute to regional peace”, he added.
The Pakistan Armed Forces said the two sides pledged to strengthen their training, technology and cooperation on counterterrorism.
Pakistan is among the few countries whose defence chiefs are received regularly by Zhang, who sits on the 25-strong Politburo, the decision-making body of the Communist Party.
Wei held meetings with a handful of defence ministers at the dialogue, including with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.
Zhang and Bajwa both denounced the suicide attack in April that killed three Chinese citizens near Karachi University’s Confucius Institute.
“Any attempt to undermine China-Pakistan friendship will not succeed”, the two senior military officers said, according to the Chinese defence ministry.
It was the first time senior military officers from China and Pakistan took a joint stand against the Karachi attack. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Baloch Liberation Army, a separatist insurgent group that has increasingly viewed China’s infrastructure investment as a target, rattling Beijing.
Earlier, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that Islamabad Police had set up a foreign security cell to audit the security arrangements of foreigners, particularly Chinese nationals, as part of its efforts to address Beijing’s concerns.
As China’s confrontations with the US have intensified in the Indo-Pacific, there has been speculation that Beijing will step up efforts to further stabilise its western borders.
The relationship between China and Pakistan has been one of highest priorities for their two governments, whose leaders often hailed them as “iron brothers”.
Pakistani authorities blamed the Pakistani Taliban for the attack, claims the Pakistani Taliban denied.