ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Friday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s upcoming visit to China would reinforce the strategic ties between the two countries.
Speaking at the weekly media briefing, FO Spokesman Asim Iftikhar said: “The visit will reinforce the all weather strategic cooperative partnership between our two countries, and further advance the objective of building a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.”
Mr Khan will visit China from Feb 3 to Feb 5 during which he will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics and meet Chinese leaders.
The prime minister’s visit is taking place after nearly two years and will, therefore, provide an opportunity to both sides to have a look at the state of bilateral cooperation and discuss more projects.
The FO spokesman on this occasion again dispelled the impression of slowdown in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the multibillion dollar infrastructure project, saying it was progressing well.
Spokesperson says time not ripe for normalisation of relations with India
“CPEC has continued making progress over the last two years despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Last meeting of the JCC was very productive and many CPEC projects are ongoing,” the spokesman said.
Mr Iftikhar described CPEC as “high quality demonstration project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)” and said both countries were “strongly committed” to taking it forward and making it successful.
Responding to a question about normalisation of ties with India, the spokesman said that conditions were not conducive for it.
Return of high commissioners to each other’s capital, he said, can happen only when “things will be moving in a positive direction”.
He further said: “At the moment, as you are aware, the current environment is not good and in our view the responsibility for that lies with India.”
Mr Iftikhar said India needed to take “steps and actions” for creating an environment conducive for constructive dialogue and engagement between the two countries.
He recalled that India was having troubled relations with most of its neighbours.
The spokesman said India had even ignored the advice of “common friends” for lessening tension and normalising ties with Pakistan.
“India has unfortunately not responded positively. It has vitiated the environment,” he maintained.
Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2022