China’s call to Pakistan to meet India halfway to mend their strained ties after the Pulwama attack is just a pro-forma statement. China’s ties with Pakistan have become firmer with the signing of agreements worth $60 billion for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of China’s ambitious $1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative. China’s ties with Pakistan are akin to an inextricable embrace for over 20 years, since when China has been freely providing India’s neighbour with defence technology, fighter jets and weapons. There is little that can be expected to happen soon, even after President Xi Jinping’s advice to Pakistan PM Imran Khan to repair ties. Imran is obviously waiting for the May 23 poll results before he undertakes any kind of recalibration of ties soured by the ISI’s helping hand in Pulwama.
Pakistan’s economy being what it is after having stalled a few years ago, the country has not been unwilling to taking help from anyone — be it the IMF, Saudi Arabia, the UAE or China. The risk that countries in the region, from Myanmar and Malaysia to Sri Lanka and Maldives, may have taken in accepting China’s aid in building infrastructure may have rebounded as in Sri Lanka having to hand over Hambantota port. China’s intention in developing a string of ports, including Gwadar in Pakistan, are too well-known. India’s fears then would have to do more with falling behind China militarily and in diplomatic influence in the region, and failing to be heard globally rather than feeling threatened to be forced into reordering its ties with Pakistan just because Imran Khan has been cosying up to Xi Jinping at the Belt and Road Forum.