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The limits of the Pakistan-China alliance

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(The views expressed in this column are the authors’ own and do not represent those of Reuters)

By Lisa Curtis and Derek Scissors

In the wake of the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound last May and deteriorating relations between Islamabad and Washington, Pakistani leaders have sought to play up their country’s relations with China, touting Beijing as an alternative partner to Washington. However, China’s concerns about the future stability and development of Pakistan will limit the extent to which China will bail Pakistan out of its current economic difficulties, and the degree to which China will seek to drive a wedge between Islamabad and Washington.

Chinese security interests in Pakistan are driven primarily by China’s desire to contain India. Beijing has built up Pakistan’s conventional military as well as nuclear and missile capabilities over the years to help keep India off balance and focused on threats emanating from Pakistan. China’s concrete economic and political interests in Pakistan itself are not that extensive. China’s economic commitment to Pakistan, for instance, is not especially impressive in size and has shown clear limits. China has shown little interest in propping up Pakistan’s economy and has not provided substantial economic aid, even during times of need.

In the past, U.S. officials have worried that pushing Pakistan too hard to crack down on terrorists could drive Islamabad more firmly into Beijing’s embrace. But China’s lukewarm response to Pakistan’s recent overtures demonstrates that there are limits to what Islamabad can expect from its “all-weather friend” — a term often used by Pakistani officials when referring to China. While China has an interest in maintaining strong security ties with Pakistan, the notion that Chinese ties could serve as a replacement for U.S. ties has been overstated by Pakistani officials. The U.S. has provided considerably higher amounts of economic and military aid to Pakistan over the past decade and also serves as a link to the rest of the Western nations, which otherwise would likely be inclined to sanction Pakistan for its nuclear and terrorism activities.

U.S. should react strongly to Pakistan’s involvement in embassy attack

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Credible U.S. press reports on Friday revealed that cell phones found on the attackers in the September 13 attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul were linked to Pakistani intelligence officials.

Rabbani assassination and Pakistani defiance crush prospects for Afghan peace

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was in charge of the High Peace Council pursuing reconciliation talks with the Taliban, is a clarifying moment for Afghans who had hoped Rabbani’s efforts would bring peace to the war-ravaged country.

News Flash: Pakistan is NOT a U.S. ally

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

U.S. media commentators acted with surprise about reports that Pakistani officials may have given the Chinese access to the downed helicopter left behind in Pakistan following the May 2 bin Laden raid.

In wake of Mumbai attacks, Pakistan could help save dialogue with India

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(The views expressed in this column are the authors’ own and do not represent those of Reuters)

India’s financial capital, Mumbai, experienced yet another terrorist attack that initial estimates say killed at least 20.

Laden link to HuM shows Pakistan must do more to fight terrorism

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

New information revealing a Kashmir-focused militant group with links to Pakistani intelligence helped shield Osama bin Laden demonstrates the U.S. must press Pakistani authorities to take a more comprehensive approach to fighting terrorism.

After bin Laden: Do not retreat from Afghanistan

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The killing of Osama bin Laden should strengthen U.S. resolve to stabilise Afghanistan and ensure that it does not return to serving as a safe haven for terrorists intent on attacking the U.S. homeland.

After bin Laden: Bringing change to Pakistan’s counterterrorism policies

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The U.S. unilateral operation to track and kill Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan has raised several questions about the sustainability of the U.S.- Pakistan partnership in the fight against global terrorism.

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