ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reached Beijing on Monday on a three-day visit to attend the first Pakistan-China Foreign Ministers’ strategic dialogue.
During Mr Qureshi’s visit, both sides will hold comprehensive discussions on a range of bilateral relations, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Both sides will also discuss the regional situation and cooperation at multilateral fora. The foreign minister is to address the Political Parties’ Forum on CPEC and participate in the ruling party’s dialogue between the PTI and the Communist Party of China (CPC). He will also call on top Chinese leadership.
Mr Qureshi was received at Beijing airport by the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, Pakistan’s ambassador to China Masood Khalid, and senior officials of the embassy.
Later, while addressing Chinese scholars, Mr Qureshi said that the strong friendship between Pakistan and China was based on strategic cooperation, adding that the start of the second CPEC phase will usher a new era of socio-economic development in this country. Stating that Pakistan wants peace in the region and good relations with all its neighbours in South Asia, including India, he reiterated that Islamabad wants to resolve issues with Delhi through dialogue.
PPP delegation led by Senator Sherry Rehman is also in the city
Meanwhile, a PPP delegation led by the parliamentary leader of the party in the Senate, Sherry Rehman, has also reached Beijing to support the consultation over CPEC. The delegation held a meeting with Guo Yezhou, vice-minister of the International Department of the CPC (IDCPC) central committee at the IDCPC on Monday. Mr Guo welcomed the delegation and stated that “the PPP has been an important force in Pakistan’s politics. Since it was launched by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the party has made a great contribution to the development of China-Pakistan friendship at different historical stages. The CPC is confident that in the new era, a friendship of two parties will further enhance and strengthen”.
Ms Rehman thanked Mr Guo for organising the multi-party constitution and said, “We are very appreciative of the CPC’s efforts and outreach to the people of Pakistan, and are in the frontlines for creating and collaborating in the great CPEC venture that is President Xi Jinping’s dream. President Zardari’s vision to give Gwadar port to China led to momentum on building a collaborative platform like CPEC. I also bring warm wishes from PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, son of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, who as you all know curated this relationship as a pillar of policy. For the PPP and Pakistan, a strong relationship with the CPC and the Peoples’ Republic of China is the cornerstone of our policy. […] We recognise that China has been our iron brother through good and bad times. We have important lessons to learn from all that China has done in last three decades. It has, for instance, taken 700 million people out of poverty and we would like to achieve similar goals. The PPP has always attempted to build consensus on national goals and we are committed to transforming Pakistan’s growth and job trajectory. For that purpose, we stand strongly behind CPEC.
“Eight per cent of our GDP can grow if we are able to consolidate gains from this opportunity. We are looking forward to building consensus and infrastructure that will enable investors and bring some green energy initiatives of the Chinese government to Pakistan.”
Ms Rehman added that “We would like to see three important aspects in CPEC, firstly; job creation for locals with skill training, secondly, sharing best practices on the greening of our technology and energy projects, and thirdly, we would like assistance in agriculture growth, energy, infrastructure, the digital economy and generating momentum on job-creation. […] We look forward to an endeavouring and stable relationship and seek to enhance Pakistan-China ties as well as the PPP-CPC bilateral relationship. We clearly understand the obvious benefits and massive opportunities that CPEC represents for the people of Pakistan.”
On behalf of the PPP and former president Asif Ali Zardari, Ms Rehman also invited Mr Guo, vice minister IDCPC, to visit Sindh and Pakistan. The six-member PPP delegation led by Ms Rehman has travelled to China on the invitation of the CPC. Members of the delegation include Syed Naveed Qamar, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Senator Rubina Khalid, Faisal Karim Kundi and MPA Taimur Talpur.
Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2019