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WASHINGTON – Pakistan’s military leadership appears to be leaning on China for support as it nears the breaking point with the United States military over the recent accidental killing of 24 Pakistani troops on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, says a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

It also appears to be breaking away from its own civilian leadership under President Asif Ali Zardari, who is considered weak by the military. Indeed, the army has been reasserting its power and influence over the civilian government.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani appears to be the only one standing up to the army, claiming that there appears to be a conspiracy to topple the government and that the army needs “to be answerable to the parliament” and “cannot be a state within a state.”

The army, Gilani said, “must follow the constitution.”

According to B. Raman of the South Asia Analysis Group and other regional experts, Beijing’s reception of Pakistani Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has been positive, reinforcing the army’s role in strategic matters.

It is Kayani’s third visit to Beijing to meet with top Chinese leadership, indicating further support for the army’s growing influence in Pakistan. China also has indicated publicly that it backs the Pakistani army’s role in strengthening the “strategic cooperative partnership” between the two countries.

The partnership has been solidified by the two countries’ mutual concern about India.

As G2Bulletin recently pointed out, Beijing and New Delhi increasingly have serious border disputes while India seeks to extend its own strategic outreach into the South China Sea by partnering with such countries as Vietnam and the Philippines to mine energy resources in waters that China claims as its own.

In turn, Pakistan has offered China strategic basing facilities that give Beijing the ability to project its own navy into the Indian Ocean, to the consternation of New Delhi.

Pakistan’s intent is to get Beijing to recognize its major interest in Afghanistan, while China wants Pakistan to continue backing its claims over Taiwan and Tibet. While Beijing hasn’t publicly criticized India, the U.S. or the civilian Pakistani leadership, it is apparent by the support for Kayani that “the Pakistan army is the driving force of the all-weather strategic relationship between the two countries.”

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