Despite the ”all-weather” friendship between China and Pakistan, the Pakistan Navy was conspicuous by its absence at the 70th anniversary celebrations of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) held in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong province.

The reason: The Pakistan Navy could not allow any of its vessels to leave the country’s shores since all of them were required to guard its maritime boundary with India in the wake of recent skirmishes following the Pulwama terror attack.

A delegation headed by Pakistan Navy chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi attended the event in what was a very low-key participation by Pakistan at the grand celebrations of its only key global ally.

At least two Pakistani ships were expected to attend the review, inspected by Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week, but the proposal was dropped as the Pakistan Navy apprehended intense pressure from the Indian Navy.

The Indian Navy, however, participated in a big way at China’s grand maritime parade.

Two Indian battle ships, including the biggest indigenously built stealth destroyer INS Kolkata, took part in it.

The parade featured China’s latest and most powerful destroyer, the Type 055, for the first time. Vessels from countries like Japan, Russia, South Korea and the Philippines also took part in the event.

The Chinese military said it “always attaches importance” to relations with its Indian and Pakistani counterparts and was ready to make more efforts to advance ties with them. However, it preferred to remain silent over the absence of Pakistani ships.

Asked how China viewed the participation of the Indian Navy ships, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Ren Guochang said more than 60 countries sent their naval delegations and 13 countries sent their ships to take part in the review.

He said the Chinese Navy’s 70th anniversary celebrations would “undoubtedly concretise the friendship and mutual relations between the PLAN and its international counterparts”.

“At the same time, China always attached importance to military-to-military relations between China and India and China and Pakistan. We are ready to make more efforts with the two nations to push forward the military relations and exchanges,” he added.