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May 27, 2013
ISLAMABAD: While the refrain when it comes to Pakistan’s relations with the US has usually been ‘trade not aid’, with China it seems to be ‘energy not aid’.
In his meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday, prime minister-to-be Nawaz Sharif sought Beijing’s assistance in overcoming the country’s worsening power crisis and urged him to further expand cooperation in the civil nuclear technology sector.
“Instead of aid, we have asked China to invest in Pakistan’s energy sector,” a senior PML-N official told The Express Tribune. “It will help us overcome our energy shortage and create new jobs, and at the same time be beneficial to China,” he added.
A day earlier during his meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari, the Chinese premier offered his country’s help in resolving Pakistan’s energy crisis.
During the meeting, both leaders discussed ways to further strengthen existing bilateral and strategic relations. Nawaz expressed an eagerness to avail Chinese expertise in order to develop infrastructure in Pakistan and asked Premier Keqiang to develop the Gwadar Port as early as possible to kickstart economic activity in the country. The two leaders also discussed a range of regional and international issues of common interest.
“The PML-N chief has yet to take oath of his office and was thus not in any position to make any agreement but he will be materialising proposals [discussed in the meeting] when he would travel to Beijing,” added the PML-N official..
Congratulating Sharif on his party’s success in the general elections, the Chinese premier also invited the PML-N chief to visit China.
“China views Nawaz Sharif as a sincere and committed friend, whose contribution to expanding cooperation between the two countries is highly appreciated,” a statement quoted Premier Li as saying. Following the meeting, Sharif told reporters that he would visit China at the earliest after taking the oath of office, and it seems its not just energy that will be on the agenda.
“A team of experts will go with Sharif in his visit to Beijing who will materialise the proposals in several sectors other than energy as well,” the party official added.
Meeting with services chiefs Along with meeting the man who will be the next civilian head of government, the Chinese premier also met Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, along with the other services chief and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, on Thursday.
They highly commended the China-Pakistan Defence and Security Consultations Mechanism, and resolved to maintain the momentum of high-level visits between the armed forces of the two countries and exchanges between military academics, while also deepening cooperation in counter-terrorism personnel training and identifying new areas for exchanges and cooperation.
In a joint statement issued at the conclusion of Chinese Premier’s two-day visit, Islamabad and Beijing agreed to further deepen practical cooperation in all sectors and strengthen coordination and cooperation on international and regional issues.
The Chinese premier reaffirmed support Pakistan’s efforts to uphold its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrit. In return, Pakistan reiterated that friendship with China is the cornerstone of its foreign policy as well.
According to the statement, tThe statement also said that both sides believe that terrorism, separatism and extremism pose a serious threat to regional peace, stability and security, and reaffirmed their resolve to continue cooperation to combat the ‘three evil forces’.
“China recognises that Pakistan has made great efforts and sacrifices to combat terrorism, and reiterates that it respects the anti-terrorism strategy developed and implemented by the Pakistani side in light of its own conditions,” the statement read.
Pakistan reaffirmed its resolve to combat terrorism, and commits to continuous, active collaboration with and assistance to China in combating terrorist forces including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. (Courtesy: Tribune)