BEIJING: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday called on Chinese President Xi Jinping on a special invitation and both discussed regional security environment, challenges and the way forward.
President Xi said that Pakistan was China’s time-tested iron friend and Pakistan Army had a pivotal role towards that lasting relationship, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations.
The Chinese leader appreciated professionalism of Pakistan’s armed forces and acknowledged their role towards regional peace and stability. He said China would continue to support Pakistan as a strategic partner.
China says military ties ‘backbone’ to relations with Pakistan
He said that those who opposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would never succeed as this was an initiative of peace and development not only for China, but for the region and beyond.
Gen Bajwa thanked President Xi for his invitation. He also thanked him for acknowledging professionalism and contributions of Pakistan Army towards regional peace and stability. Pakistan understood the importance of peace and had given a lot of sacrifices for achieving it, he added.
The army chief said that BRI with CPEC as its flagship was destined to succeed despite all odds and Pakistan Army would ensure its security at all costs.
“While we work for peace we need to stay strong to thwart designs of all inimical forces, challenging our resolve and we greatly value Chinese support in that regard,” he added.
Gen Bajwa is the most senior Pakistani figure to visit ally China since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took office in August, and his trip comes a week or so after a senior Chinese diplomat visited Islamabad.
A senior Chinese general told Gen Bajwa that military ties between China and Pakistan are the “backbone” of relations between the two countries.
On Tuesday, Zhang Youxia, a deputy chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission which President Xi Jinping heads, reiterated to Gen Bajwa that the two countries are “all weather” strategic cooperative partners.
“China-Pakistan military ties are an important backbone of relations between the two countries,” said Mr Zhang, according to a statement by China’s Defence Ministry late on Tuesday.
“The two militaries should further pay close attention to practical cooperation in all areas, keep raising the ability to deal with various security risks and challenges, and join hands to protect the common interests of both countries.”
However, Mr Zhang cited Mr Xi as saying that the Belt and Road Initiative should be a benchmark for China-Pakistan ties.
He said China appreciated the new Pakistan government’s platform of fully promoting the relationship and that China was willing to work with the new government to push construction of the CPEC.
Beijing has pledged to invest about $60 billion in Pakistan for infrastructure for the Belt and Road project.
Pakistan has deepened ties with China in recent years as relations with the United States have frayed.
Gen Bajwa may be hoping to smooth out any Chinese alarm at comments last week by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s adviser, Abdul Razak Dawood, who suggested suspending for a year projects in the CPEC.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2018