ISLAMABAD: Beijing and Islamabad have agreed on formation of a joint parliamentary committee for effective oversight and monitoring of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Chairman of the Chinese National Peoples Congress (NPC) Li Zhanshu took the decision during their virtual meeting on Wednesday and directed secretariats of their respective parliaments to take necessary steps for constitution of the joint parliamentary committee.
The virtual meeting was the first high-level contact between the two presiding officers after the oubreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an official handout issued by the National Assembly Secretariat. It said the proposal regarding constitution of a joint committee had come from Mr Qaiser.
Mr Qaiser and Mr Li agreed that enhanced parliamentary and economic cooperation between the two parliaments would give impetus to the existing bilateral relations. They decided to enhance parliamentary cooperation through interaction at standing committees’ level as well as Parliamentary Friendship Group.
The speaker said the CPEC was undoubtedly a lifeline for economic development of Pakistan and a mechanism had been devised to ensure security of the CPEC projects. He said any attempt to disrupt activity under the CPEC would not be tolerated.
NA speaker and Chinese National Peoples Congress chairman hold virtual meeting
He said activity under the CPEC had gained momentum and the Rashakai Special Economic Zone would be functional soon which would generate economic activities besides providing employment particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the country in general.
Mr Qaiser said Pakistan considered China its closest friend, staunchest partner and ‘an iron brother’. He said consistent progression in the relations exemplified a unique model of brotherhood. He congratulated his Chinese counterpart on the 71st anniversary of Sino-Pak diplomatic relations and Chinese New Year.
The speaker said Pakistan strongly believed in territorial integrity of China and fully supported ‘One-China policy’. He said Pakistan valued Chinese support on international and regional forums. He said Kashmir being the bleeding wound on the map of the world needed international attention for mitigation of miseries of Kashmiri people and fulfilment of international commitment. He said China’s equivocal support on the Kashmir issue was valued by the people and the government of Pakistan.
NPC Chairman Li Zhanshu said China would always stand by Pakistan for its defence and maintaining territorial integrity. He said Covid-19 was devastating for China as well as the world; however, the support of Pakistan, especially its parliament, had boosted the Chinese morale to fight that disease. He assured the speaker that provision of Covid-19 vaccine was the top priority of the Chinese government.
He said CPEC was of utmost importance for the economies of both the countries. Referring to the instances of terrorism in the region, he underlined the need for security of the CPEC to keep it moving on right track.
The NPC chairman said that Mr Qaiser’s support for establishment of special economic zones under the CPEC earlier as the KP Assembly speaker and later as the NA speaker had been exemplary. He said Gwadar Port and other projects under the CPEC would play an important role in economic development in Pakistan.
Mr Qaiser was accompanied by Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri, Chairman of the NA Committee on CPEC Sher Ali Arbab, Chairman of the NA’s Foreign Affairs Committee Ehsanullah Tiwana, convener of Pak-China Friendship Group Noor Alam Khan and other members of the National Assembly, whereas Mr Li was accompanied by the NPC deputy speaker and the chairmen of the committees on foreign affairs and law during the virtual meeting.
Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2021