ISLAMABAD, May 29: Snubbed at Chicago and confronted with growing international isolation, Islamabad on Tuesday got much needed words of support from Beijing, whose foreign minister not only asked the world to recognise Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terror, but also pledged support for safeguarding Pakistan’s sovereignty.
“China will continue to firmly support Pakistan in protecting its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and dignity,” Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said at the Foreign Office after his meeting with his counterpart, Hina Rabbani Khar.
Mr Jiechi had earlier met President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and Army chief Gen Kayani.In a message apparently directed at Washington, the visiting foreign minister said Islamabad had played an important role in fighting terrorism and called upon the international community to recognise it. “Pakistan deserves full support from the international community.”
The strong message from Beijing assumes greater significance in the backdrop of frayed Pakistan-US ties and the difficulties in negotiations for reset in the relationship and resumption of blocked Nato ground supply routes.
This is not the first time that China has come to Pakistan’s rescue in dealing with the US. Soon after Osama bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad raid, the Chinese foreign ministry had come out with similar expression of backing for Islamabad, which was then under attack for failing to locate Al Qaeda chief living close to the military training academy.
Last week’s Nato summit in Chicago saw the two allies (Pakistan and US) drifting further apart instead of some of the contentious issues being resolved. President Barack Obama, who refused a bilateral meeting with his guest Mr Zardari, made no secret of his frustration with Pakistan as he omitted it from the list of countries he thanked for supporting the military effort in Afghanistan and pointedly asked Islamabad to cooperate.
Mr Jiechi, while underscoring the significance of his statement, said the evolving international situation warranted stronger strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan.
The Chinese FM had at the start of his comments said that he was in Islamabad to further strengthen and push forward the strategic partnership Foreign Minister Khar, whose remarks were otherwise full of platitudes, noted that both Beijing and Islamabad had a “clear and similar vision for this region” based on respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.
Both Prime Minister Gilani and President Zardari thanked the Chinese leadership for their support.
Mr Jiechi, during his meeting with Prime Minister Gilani, said that China had also asked the US and India to normalise relations with Pakistan and respect its “legitimate interests”.
Mr Gilani told Mr Jiechi that Pakistan was re-negotiating the parameters of relationship with the US on the basis of mutual interest, mutual respect, sovereignty and national dignity.
Two rounds of discussions were held at the presidency. President Zardari first had a one-on-one meeting with Mr Jiechi, which was followed by talks between the two delegations.
One of the issues on Chinese FM’s agenda for Islamabad was the coming visit of President Zardari to China next month and his participation in SCO Summit.
Mr Zardari said Pakistan saw China as a source of regional stability. He further said Pakistan and China could work together for promoting regional stability and development.
The president said Pakistan fully endorsed China’s call for the SCO and existing multilateral mechanisms to play their role for promoting peace, stability and development.