Pakistan wants a defence pact with China

Islamabad: Pakistan has apparently been secretly lobbying for a defence pact with China though the initiative has been met with caution in Beijing, which feels that such an agreement could put the two `all-weather` allies in trouble with the US and India, a media report said today.

Pakistan made overtures to China regarding the defence pact early this year when its relationship with the US was weakened by several controversies, `The Express Tribune` quoted unnamed diplomatic and military officials as saying.

However, there is "little hope" for an immediate breakthrough, it said.

Islamabad used "backdoor and regular" diplomatic channels in an attempt to convince the Chinese leadership that the agreement would be "mutually beneficial", the officials said.

"Our view is, and it is also shared by authorities in Beijing to an extent, that this will send a strong signal to the world that Pakistan is not alone … an emerging world power is standing behind it," an unnamed official was quoted as saying.

Pakistan formally raised the issue during a visit by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to China immediately after al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed in a covert US military raid on May 2 in Abbottabad, the official said.

"He put forward Pakistan`s desire formally," said an official privy to the development who requested his name not be mentioned due to the sensitivity of the issue.

However, the Chinese leadership advised Pakistan not to push for an agreement that could put Islamabad and Beijing in trouble with Washington and New Delhi, officials said.