President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ironically ended up in India at about the same time. Karzai was there from May 20th to the 22nd, while the Chinese PM arrived on May 19th and left on the 22nd for Pakistan.
Majority of the media sources reported on them as separate visits and did not point to the significance of this coincidence. Nonetheless, what did this linkage mean for Pakistan?
The nations ties have improved with India, but not to the extent to make them oblivious to the occurrence. The visit of President Karzai was meant to solicit more defense equipment and training from India. The training of Afghan army by India has been a cause of grave concern and a red line for Pakistan. Moreover, Karzai’s trip has taken place in the aftermath of increased tensions on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
On the other hand, the Chinese premier was visiting India after the recent confrontation between the two in the Ladakh region.
By visiting India first, and while Karzai was visiting, China is conveying to Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, it gives more importance to economic and trade relations as oppose to security concerns. While Pakistan considers China its close ‘all weather’ ally, China has been deepening its economic and trade ties with both India and Afghanistan.
The implied message will obviously have a positive influence on Pakistan’s ties with India and Afghanistan. However, the Chinese message is likely to be only valid as long as India does not play a countering role in the American pivot to the Pacific.