Number of the Day: 15,000,000,000

Posted on December 18, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Economy & Development, Foreign Relations
Total Views: 42868

Adil Najam

A good picture, they say, can be worth a thousand words. A good number can be worth millions. Even billions. In this case, 15 billion. And that is counting dollars, not words.

The number, of course, is the value of business deals being finalized during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Pakistan. There are many versions of the numbers out there. Some think the number is $20 billion, others maybe more, and this being Pakistan media some are adding all the different estimates together. But none of that matters much, what is a billion here or there between friends!

But the real point is that no matter how you look at it, even the lowest estimate – US$15 billion – is one very impressive number. The even bigger point is that this is a number coming from someone who is clearly seen as a friend and therefore is seen so very different from how gifts borne by those who one does not trust are viewed.

Those, to me, are the real stories behind this number. The story of a powerful and dependable friend; maybe the only one for Pakistan. The story of a stable and sustainable international relationship; maybe the only one for Pakistan. The story of a sensible and reasonable interests-based basis for an international relationship; maybe the only one for Pakistan.

I am, of course and like most Pakistanis, a fan of the Pakistan-China relationship. There is much that we Pakistanis can ourselves learn from this relationship about why our other relationships have turned out to be so very different. There is also much that our other international partners – in particular the United States – can learn from this relationship about why their offerings have received such different responses from Pakistan (the obvious case would be the $7.5 Billion Kerry Lugar Bill that got half as much money into Pakistan and gave the US that many times more angst and such a different reception).

If we ourselves in Pakistan can learn the lessons inherent in this relationship and begin applying them to our other relationships, the value of that would, at least to me, be worth even more than the $15 billion we are now talking about. But can we learn those lessons? Have we ever?

25 responses to “Number of the Day: 15,000,000,000”

  1. banjara286 says:

    najam sethi’s analysis on this. i believe that, like me, he too needs a basic course in economics. SUQ9Mzc3I2ZMYWc9ZXAuMzY2MyxwYXJ0LjEscGRhdGUuMjAxMC 0xMi0yMA==

  2. Zubair says:

    The Chinese are smart. They make investments not aid that is why they are so much preferred by people all over the developing countries. In Africa, in Latin America and in Asia the Chinese way of investment has raised economies so much more than the US style of aid etc.

  3. Qadir says:

    The issue is not the amount. The real thing is that these are investments in the real economy of Pakistan.

    By the way, why do these Indian commentators keep popping up to spin things with false names. How pathetic.

  4. Qasim says:

    The amount does not matter, but the mood matters more. Just the difference in the tone of these meetings and the ones with the US should be studied. Tells you a whole lot about the difference in the two relationships.

  5. Hermoon Gill says:

    As much as we always talk about Chinese’s benevolence and their investment in Pakistan as a one -way traffic but its not like that.Sometime ago I came across something very interesting and thought provoking.

    Very few people mention that what Pakistan has done for China in the past cannot be repaid in the shape of building power plants and dams.
    In 1961,when China had just suffered humiliation at the hands of Soviet Union and West had completely shunned China,it was Pakistan who went all out to help China by first seceding a large chunk of its own territory,Aksai Chin,and later launching a campaign at the UN for China’s inclusion.

    Later on in 1971,when America had long closed its doors to China,Pakistan helped both countries restore ties by facilitating Henry Kissinger’s trip to China via Rawalpindi.
    The Chinese have not forgotten all these efforts by Pakistan and are trying to repay the favors by all means that they can.
    Today Pakistan is helping China open up its Western region for trade and communication by facilitating China use the Gawadar Port.

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