Time To Look East

The prime minister was still in the US when speculations started on whether his visit was a success or a failure. His party men called it a success; his detractors termed it a flop. If a third world leader makes a successful visit to the US, it’s considered a good omen for his government; otherwise, he should be ready for a rough ride. But what do the people on whose votes the government came to power think about the US?
Were a referendum held to know public opinion about the superpower, a vast majority would vociferously demand that the government stay clear of the intrusive superpower. Anti-US sentiment is not restricted to Pakistan; it runs even deeper in other Muslim countries. Typically, the governments of most Muslim countries are indebted to the US for the sake of their survival while their populations want to rid themselves of the yoke of foreign dominance.
We have often heard how the first elected prime minister of the embryonic Pakistan made his sojourn to the US soon after Partition. Does that mean we must remain in the same orbit of influence despite the geopolitical situation around us having drastically changed? China has emerged as an economic giant and a military power. Yet it has no expansionist designs, nor has it colonised weaker states nor superimposed its proxies there to control them remotely.
China has made inroads into other countries because of what it is delivering to them. It’s developing an extensive railways network in Iran. In Africa, Chinese investment is huge. Two thousand Chinese companies are working in more than 50 African countries. And this investment is increasing at the rate of 20 percent annually. While imperialists’ modus operandi is to invade and occupy, as in Iraq and Libya, the Chinese believe in trade and development. They’ve established themselves as reliable trading partners and developers instead of trigger-happy usurpers.
The problem, however, is that many among our upper-most layer are accustomed to western lollipops. They’re more interested to obtain green cards for themselves and their kin than they are in the future of the land that has given them more than they deserved. Their children must go to American universities to land cushy jobs on return. Even though many of them return without any qualification but having stayed in US and acquired an affected accent is enough for them to be counted among the ‘who’s who’.
In the upper crust of our society, one often hears that given the chance to get an American visa, every Pakistani would make a beeline for it. It’s not that people love America; it’s just that this country has been misruled and plundered so mercilessly that it’s unable to offer a decent meal to the common citizen.
Why don’t the Malaysians make long queues to get a US visa? They don’t need to, because the mentor of modern Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamed, economically developed his country at par with the west. During our school and college days, Malaysian boys used to come here for studies, now our boys go there for higher education.
The words of former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao still echo in many minds: “Let’s stand together, with a new confidence, and begin a new era of progress and prosperity, by jointly confronting all challenges. China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners and share the sorrows and joys of each other as close brothers.”
Show of such solidarity deserves our respect. It’s time to redefine our alliances. China is our time-tested friend. It may not be able to offer green cards to the select few but close cooperation with it could change the future of our nation.