• ‘Productive’ tripartite talks held as Afghan minister arrives on special visit
• China assures continued support for Pakistan’s economic stability
ISLAMABAD: At “productive” trilateral talks on Saturday, Pakistan and China assured Afghanistan of their cooperation so that the conflict-torn country begins its journey towards stability.
The fact that the Chinese foreign minister visited Pakistan shows Islamabad and Beijing’s keen interest to ensure peace and prosperity in the region. The development attains significance when seen in the backdrop of China’s role as Beijing has recently successfully worked to bring bitter rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia closer.
On the bilateral front, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari appreciated China’s “principled and just stance” on the issue of India-held Kashmir and hailed Beijing’s support for Islamabad.
At the 5th Trilateral Foreign Ministers Dialogue, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and his Chinese and Afghan counterparts Qin Gang and Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, respectively, held productive discussion on matters of mutual interest, including political engagement, counter-terrorism, trade and connectivity.
Mr Muttaqi has been subjected to travel bans, asset freezes, and arms embargoes under the Security Council sanctions for a long time. A UN Security Council committee agreed on May 1 to allow him to travel during May 6-9 for the meeting on a request from Pakistan’s UN mission, diplomats said.
The trilateral dialogue was followed by the 4th round of Sino-Pak strategic dialogue.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari while speaking at a joint stakeout with Mr Qin after the strategic dialogue stressed that peace and stability in Afghanistan remained vital for the socioeconomic development, connectivity and prosperity of the region.
“We will continue to work together with all stakeholders for peaceful, stable, prosperous and united Afghanistan,” he said.
The foreign minister said engagement with the Afghan authorities was must and it was their consistent message to them ‘help us help you.’
He said unlocking Afghanistan’s potential is crucial for the benefit of its people, and that achieving stability and peace in the country is essential.
He said the core issue and red line was terrorism, which posed a serious threat to regional peace and was a stumbling block in the way of prosperity for the Afghan people.
He said that during his recent SCO-CFM meetings in India, they discussed different projects within the framework of SCO including CASA, Trans-Afghan railways, but all these projects hinged upon addressing the security issues in Afghanistan.
While referring to the long-standing ties between Pakistan and China, he said the two countries had been supporting each other for decades and would continue to do so in the decades to come.
The minister reiterated Pakistan’s firm support for China on all its core issues, including the One-China policy, Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.
“We are committed to remaining engaged with China to promote south-south cooperation, especially in light of emerging global concerns like human-induced climate change,” he added.
The minister termed Pakistan-China friendship as irreversible, ‘a historic reality and a consensus choice of the two nations’.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari also expressed gratitude to the Chinese leadership for its generous and timely assistance as their country was facing the meltdown effects of the global economy.
He termed CPEC ‘a win-win economic initiative, open to all investors around the world’.
He said CPEC remains a shining example of the Belt and Road cooperation, which spurred socioeconomic development, job creation and improvement in the livelihoods of the people of Pakistan.
Chine reaffirms support
Mr Qin assured that that China will continue to support Pakistan in maintaining foreign exchange and financial stability, especially during challenges like geopolitical conflicts, international turbulence, and natural disasters.
The visiting dignitary said China will always support Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity. He said China firmly supports Pakistan in exploring a development path compatible with its national conditions.
He praised Pakistan’s significant sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and expressed his firm belief in Islamabad’s ultimate victory in counter-terrorism operations.
He stated that both sides had agreed to hold the perpetrators of terrorism against Chinese workers in Pakistan accountable and to deepen their security cooperation.
Mr Qin said both sides expressed satisfaction with the progress made on projects under the CPEC.
“We also agreed to expedite major projects, including ML-1 and the Gwadar port,” he added.
He stated that the leadership in China encourages Chinese companies to invest in Pakistan and welcomes high-quality products from Pakistan into China.
He emphasised the importance of exploring new areas of cooperation in agriculture and energy.
The foreign minister reiterated that China and Pakistan were committed to an even closer partnership and building a shared future as all-weather strategic and cooperative partners in the new era.
He highlighted the importance of the strong and enduring friendship between Pakistan and China, which was built on a shared history and the consensus of the people of both countries.
Mr Qin appreciated Pakistan’s support on issues of China’s interest and major concerns. He also mentioned that commercial flights between Pakistan and China have been restored to pre-pandemic levels and that the China-Pakistan joint exhibition of Gandhara art at the Palace Museum in Beijing was popular among the Chinese people.
He emphasised the need to explore new areas of cooperation in agriculture and energy, and reiterated the commitment of both countries to strengthen their strategic and cooperative partnership.
He stated that President Xi Jinping has proposed Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative, and Global Civilisation Initiative, which provide Chinese solutions and proposals to the world. He mentioned that both countries have agreed to prioritise the implementation of these initiatives. He also stated that they are against the mentality of the Cold War and bloc confrontation.
Mr Qin said that the all-weather cooperation and friendship between the two countries had been forged by history and consensus. He noted that the increasingly fortified and deepened cooperation between the two countries was contributing to global peace and development.
Referring to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent visit, he said frequent interactions between the two countries would strengthen strategic cooperation.
In response to a question about the China-Pakistan-Afghanistan talks, he stated that the dialogue would help uphold peace and stability in the region.
He expressed China’s readiness to support Afghanistan in its economic reconstruction and expressed the hope that the interim Afghan government would embrace inclusive governance and moderate policies while maintaining friendly relations with its neighbours.
He also urged the international community to take concrete actions to help the Afghan people and alleviate their sufferings.
During the 4th round of strategic dialogue co-chaired by the two foreign ministers, they welcomed the completion of a decade of CPEC in 2023 and hailed CPEC as a shining example of Belt and Road cooperation that has accelerated socio-economic development, job creation, and improved people’s livelihoods in Pakistan.
Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the high-quality development of CPEC and expressed satisfaction with the steady progress of CPEC projects.
Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2023
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