COAS, Chinese envoy discuss CPEC, regional security

Published January 20, 2022
CHINESE Ambassador Nong Rong meets Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
CHINESE Ambassador Nong Rong meets Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

ISLAMABAD: Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong met Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday to discuss the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), regional security, measures to enhance bilateral cooperation and other matters of mutual interest, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

The meeting, held at Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters, came ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s upcoming three-day visit to China from Feb 3 to Feb 5.

During his visit, Mr Khan will attend the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and hold talks with senior Chinese leaders on bilateral relations.

China’s security concerns were accentuated by two major attacks last year, including the bomb attack on a Chinese workers’ bus near the Dasu hydropower plant in July and the attack on a hotel in Quetta in April where the Chinese envoy had been staying during a trip to the provincial capital.

Meeting comes ahead of PM’s visit to China from Feb 3 to 5

Meanwhile, Islamabad has agreed to compensate the Chinese workers killed and injured in the Dasu attack and various plans are being drawn for making the payment.

During the meeting with the Chinese ambassador, Gen Bajwa reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to providing full security to Chinese projects and citizens working in the country.

The Chinese envoy thanked Gen Bajwa for “for special measures taken for the provision of safe and secure environment to CPEC projects in Pakistan”, the ISPR said.

CPEC, which has witnessed a slowdown in the past couple of years, is also likely to come under discussion during the prime minister’s meetings in China.

Other reasons for CPEC’s slowdown have been the Covid-19 pandemic, no major new Chinese commitment, pending payments of Chinese power plants to the tune of Rs230 billion and delays in the financial close of the Karachi–Peshawar railway line (ML-1) upgradation project.

The ISPR said Mr Rong was satisfied with the “progress on CPEC and reaffirmed the need for timely completion of the remaining projects.” Regional security, especially in Afghanistan’s context, was also discussed during the meeting.

Gen Bajwa told the ambassador that Pakistan remained committed to cooperating with its international partners for bringing peace to the region.

PAF chief meets Czech envoy

Meanwhile, Czech Republic Ambas­sador to Pakistan Tomas Smetanka called on Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmad Babar Sidhu at Pakistan Air Force headquarters.

PAF’s media directorate said that Mr Smetanka praised the professionalism of PAF personnel and the progress made over the years, especially through indigenisation.

Air Chief Marshal Babar reiterated his resolve to further augment the existing cooperation between the PAF and Czech Air Force.

“Various matters of mutual interest and professional cooperation also came under discussion during the meeting,” the PAF said in a statement.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2022

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