ISLAMABAD: Prime Minis­ter Shehbaz Sharif is all set to embark on his maiden visit to China on Nov 1 to give fresh impetus to the bilateral ties with Beijing, after concluding his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia where he attended an investment summit and convinced Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to order the release of Pakistani prisoners detained in April.

Mr Sharif has been invited to China on a two-day official visit by Li Keqiang, the outgoing Chinese premier, in the first week of November. He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, according to the Foreign Office statement released on Wednesday.

China is traditionally the first overseas stop for Pakistani prime ministers; however, PM Sharif’s maiden trip got delayed due to Beijing’s annoyance over terrorism incidents targeting its citizens in Pakistan, the slow pace of work on CPEC projects, and outstanding payments to Chinese investors.

The premier earlier met President Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan on Sept 16. “China hopes that Pakistan will provide solid protection for the security of Chinese citizens and institutions in Pakistan as well as the lawful rights and interests of Chinese businesses,” President Xi told PM Sharif at the time. However, Mr Sharif will be the first foreign executive to visit China following the historic 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. “Prime Minister’s visit represents the continuity of frequent leadership level exchanges between Pakistan and China,” the FO statement said.

Saudi Arabia releases Pakistanis detained for hooliganism in Madina

During the visit, PM Sharif will meet President Xi and hold delegation-level talks with Premier Li. “The two sides will review the all-weather strategic cooperation, partnership, and exchange views on regional and global developments,” the FO said, and hoped that the trip will advance the wide-ranging bilateral cooperation agenda with the conclusion of a number of MoUs in diverse areas, and consolidate the momentum of CPEC cooperation.

The visit will take place soon after the meeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), which is being held on Oct 27. Though PM Sharif is keen to revive CPEC, particularly the Special Economic Zones project, he may struggle to convince investors because of heightened political instability and uncertainty at home.

Meanwhile, in Islamabad, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong in a meeting with Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal discussed several CPEC projects to be taken up during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif to China, reported APP.

The minister emphasised the importance of the projects and reiterated that the government was committed to uplifting the CPEC projects, said a press release. The upcoming visit of PM Sharif will be significant especially, at a time when China President Xi Jinping has been elected for a third term as China’s leader,” said the minister, while reiterating that the incumbent government has revived the CPEC.

Earlier during his visit to Jeddah, the prime minister convinced Saudi authorities to release Pakistani nationals detained on charges of hooliganism at Masjid-i-Nabwi in April this year. He discussed bilateral ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and convinced him to order release of the prisoners.

Several Pakistanis had been jailed following the incident at the holy mosque. Among those who were given eight years, of imprisonment included Khawaja Luqman, Muhammad Afzal, and Ghulam Muhammad while Anas, Arshad, and Muhammad Salim were given six years in jail. Besides, a court had also sentenced Tahir Malik to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 Saudi Riyals.

The premier also offered Umrah, paid respects at Roza-i-Rasool (Peace Be Upon Him), and prayed for the prosperity of the country.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Road to perdition
Updated 01 Feb, 2023

Road to perdition

This is also the time of reckoning for those who sowed the seeds of a disastrous policy against militants.
Transport tragedies
01 Feb, 2023

Transport tragedies

TWO tragedies over the weekend illustrate the weak protocols governing the safety of transport in Pakistan. In fact,...
Disqualifying Jam Awais
01 Feb, 2023

Disqualifying Jam Awais

IT appears that there may be some kind of small punishment after all for PPP lawmaker Jam Awais, who was pardoned ...
Police Lines bombing
Updated 31 Jan, 2023

Police Lines bombing

Where the menace of terrorism is concerned, the government and opposition need to close ranks and put up a united front.
Oil price hike
31 Jan, 2023

Oil price hike

THE record single-day increase in petrol prices, preceded by massive currency depreciation, signifies the ...
Babar Azam’s award
31 Jan, 2023

Babar Azam’s award

BABAR Azam might not have lifted many trophies as Pakistan’s all-format captain in the last year but the star...