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

Posted on December 18, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Economy & Development, Foreign Relations
Total Views: 38079

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. Asif Ali says:

    20 بلین واہ جی واہ زرداری دی تے عید ہو گئی
    آج کل صدر صاحب دا کی ریٹ اے پاکستان خِدمَت کرنے دا ؟

  2. Ahmed says:

    It is a folly to attribute human qualities to governments. There is no “friendship” in China’s actions, just a favorable geopolitics.

    Lets think for a minute why China can “flatter” us in a way that no western country or India can. Two reasons.

    1) It makes good geopolitics in encircling India who they view as competitive superpower. To quote none other than ancient Pakistani (Chanakya), “An enemy of an enemy is friend”.

    2) Being in a suppressive political system, the Chinese leader has no worries about retaliation from his people for not being harder on Pakistan-exported religuous terror.

    A true friend is someone who gives it to us straight, not someone who flatters us. From that perspective, Hillary Clinton’s admonition of us not collecting enough taxes is more helpful that vain flattery that is akin to telling a cancer patient that it is just a “bump”. Besides another dictatorship like China, and godless to boot, are not a good role model for us. Rather, we should try to emulate representative democracies with freedom for its people like India and the West.


  3. Recently American President visited India and have made few strategic agreements with India. So Pakistan did a necessary job by calling Chinese Prime Minister to visit Pakistan immediately (in order to balance the situation). China has not only signed strategic agreements with Pakistan but also donated a valuable amount for Flood victims. (Ye Alag Baat hai ke is mein se kitne paise logon mein distribute honge :))

  4. Jogezai says:

    What I like best is that these are business projects, so there will be something to show for it. With KL Bill the PPP jiyalas and the NGOs and the military will eat up everything.

  5. Sajjad Junaidi says:

    “what is a billion here or there between friends!”

    Dr. Adil, I know it was suppose to be tongue and cheek, but we all know that’s what will happen. In any case even if 90% of this investment/trade is done properly, we are laughing. So, a very good news indeed.

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