A flashback on Pakistan, China all-weather historic Friendship

BEIJING: Pakistan and China are fraternal neighbors and all-weather strategic cooperative partners. The Chinese people refer to Pakistan by the endearing name of “Iron Pak,” meaning the China-Pakistan friendship is as solid as iron. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1951.
In the ensuing 70 years, thanks to the personal commitment of leaders of several generations and the wholehearted support of the people of both countries, China and Pakistan have forged an ironclad friendship, according to an article published by Global Times.
In the 1960s, then Pakistani President sent a political adviser to Beijing to discuss the possibility of seeking China’s assistance in building a highway along the ancient Silk Road.
Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai agreed without hesitation that China would do it together with Pakistan. It is what we now know as the Karakoram Highway, spanning a distance of 1,224 kilometers.
With more than 600 kilometers in Pakistan built with Chinese assistance, it is the only land route between the two countries. It runs through the Himalayas, the Karakoram, the Hindu Kush and the Pamir Plateau.
The environment in the region was extremely harsh: oxygen scarcity was the order of the day; avalanches, mudslides and earthquakes happened all too often.
But none of these held back the heroic construction workers.
One of them recalled risking their lives to work hanging in mid-air off the side of a cliff. They would tie one end of the safety rope to their waists, climb up a cliff and look for a sturdy rock or tree to fasten the safety rope.
Then they would carry a ponderous pneumatic drill to drill holes on the rocks and put in dynamites to blast rocks and prepare the roadbed.
All of these were done with the workers hanging in the mid-air. The hardship and danger was extraordinary. They often worked like this for hours without any water or a break, while keeping an eye on falling stones all the time.
It was with such dauntless spirit that construction workers from both China and Pakistan carved out of the frozen plateau a highway of friendship. Many Chinese workers gave their lives in the construction.
88 Chinese construction workers were laid to rest at the Gilgit Chinese Memorial Cemetery, guarding the highway built with their sweat and lives, and the ever-lasting China-Pakistan friendship.
In May 1976, Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto paid a visit to China. At the time, Chairman Mao in his twilight years had difficulties speaking and walking.
Nonetheless, he agreed to meet the Pakistani guests at his Zhongnanhai residence on May 27, and asked Bhutto about the development of Pakistan.
That was the last time Mao met with foreign guests. After Mao’s passing, his undertakings were carried forward by his successors and the China-Pakistan friendship grew even stronger.
– The Daily Mail-Global Times News exchange item