PM returns from China with more pacts under his belt

Published October 21, 2023
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar leaves for Islamabad after concluding his China visit. — PID photo
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar leaves for Islamabad after concluding his China visit. — PID photo

• Pakistan joins China’s moon programme
• Kakar offers Friday prayers in Xinjiang
• Khunjerab border crossing to operate throughout the year

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar returned home on Friday evening after a whirlwind five-day China trip that took him to places where only few foreign dignitaries before him visited, and one that saw Islamabad and Beijing ink over 20 agreements, covering areas from currency swapping to building a research station on the moon’s south pole.

Although both sides vowed to cement ties in various fields, especially for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), President Xi Jinping sought guarantees from Islamabad regarding security of Chinese personnel working in Pakistan.

The agreements signed cover round-the-year functioning of the Khunjerab border crossing, coordination on Afghan issue, close trust and coordination between their armed forces, peace talks between Palestine and Israel, currency swapping, partnership on building a research station on moon’s south pole, infrastructure, mining, industry, green and low-carbon development, health, digital economy, development cooperation and export of agricultural products to China.

On the last day of his trip, PM

Kakar offered Friday prayers in Xinjiang province, becoming one of the few Muslim leaders to visit the region where more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities live.

According to a joint statement issued at the conclusion of PM Kakar’s visit, the two sides reaffirmed support for each other on issues pertaining to their respective core interests.

The Pakistani side reaffirmed its commitment to the one-China Principle and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and Pakistan firmly supports Beijing’s efforts to achieve national reunification, and opposes any form of “Taiwan independence”.

Lunar programme

Chinese Premier Li Qiang and PM Kakar also witnessed the signing of an initial cooperation agreement on the moon programme in Beijing on Wednesday.

The China National Space Administration on Friday said cooperation on building the research station would cover areas such as engineering and operational aspects of the Chinese lunar base programme.

Recognising the significance of Gwadar Port as an important node in cross-regional connectivity, the two sides agreed to speed up development of the port and its auxiliary projects. Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in agriculture, industrial sector and mining, geological survey, joint research on geology and minerals, training of talent, and planning of mining industrial parks.

Under the $65 billion CPEC, both sides decided to keep the Khunjerab border open throughout the year. The border remains closed due to harsh weather in winter.

The two sides reviewed with satisfaction the progress on the desalination plant, the New Gwadar International Airport, the Pak-China Friendship Hospital and other projects. Both sides reiterated their resolve to make Gwadar a high-quality port, a reg­ional trade hub and a connectivity node.

The Chinese side expre­ssed willingness to support Pakistan in expanding exports to China. They signed protocols on the export of heated beef, dried chilli, fresh cherries and dairy products from Pakistan to China.

The two sides expressed satisfaction with cooperation on Currency Swap Agreement and Renminbi settlement, and agreed to strengthen financial and banking cooperation.

Security of Chinese

China is a major ally and investor in Pakistan but both separatist and militants have attacked Chinese projects over recent years, killing Chinese personnel.

China is willing to strengthen cooperation and promote solidarity with Pakistan in a multiple fields but has urged it to guarantee the safety of Chinese organisations and personnel working there, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

“We hope the Pakistani side will guarantee the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan,” the ministry cited President Xi as telling caretaker PM Kakar during a meeting on Thursday.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2023

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