Rare political unity witnessed as China stresses internal stability essential for Pakistan’s development

Published June 21, 2024
A group photo of the participants of the Pakistan-China Joint Consultative Mechanism of Political Parties on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Islamabad on Friday. — CPEC Official X
A group photo of the participants of the Pakistan-China Joint Consultative Mechanism of Political Parties on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Islamabad on Friday. — CPEC Official X

Rare political consensus was shown on Friday at the third meeting of the Pakistan-China Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM) of Political Parties on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Islamabad as a visiting Chinese minister stressed that internal stability was essential for Pakistan’s development.

The cross-party political unity was shown at the CPEC Pakistan-China Political Parties Forum co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar and Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC) and member of the Communist Party Central Committee Liu Jianchao who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan.

Established in 2019, the JCM of Political Parties on CPEC is a regular consultation mechanism between the Communist Party of China and the political parties of Pakistan. Previous meetings were held on March 19, 2019, in Beijing and on August 20, 2020, virtually.

Among prominent political leaders present were Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Science and Technology Minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Senate Chairman Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, PPP’s Hina Rabbani, PTI Senator Ali Zafar, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Fazlur Rehman and others.

The leaders reiterated their unwavering commitment to further strengthen the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and China by thwarting all nefarious designs.

In his opening remarks, DPM Dar emphasised the catalytic role that CPEC had played in Pakistan’s socioeconomic development.

“Not only has CPEC helped alleviate chronic load-shedding issues, development projects have also helped create mass employment opportunities in Pakistan,” he said.

Recalling Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent visit to China, the DPM said both countries unanimously agreed on executing the second phase of CPEC, in addition to signing the modalities for third-party participation in the project.

He reiterated that Pakistan was committed to promoting people-to-people linkages as both countries stood with each other through “thick and thin”.

Dar further noted that CPEC constituted a vital pillar of the Pak-China economic and strategic partnership and that there was “complete unanimity” on its significance as it catalysed Pakistan’s endeavours toward socioeconomic prosperity and regional connectivity.

He said the two countries were witnessing a high-quality second phase of CPEC with both sides prioritising the agriculture, information technology, industry and mining and mineral sectors.

In his remarks, Liu said: “In a turbulent world of rising uncertainties, stability within a country is essential for the development of that country. Faced with complex internal and external challenges, Pakistan is navigating carefully through turbulent rivers and treacherous shores.

“Only when all political parties in the country join hands to ensure political and social stability can there be sustainable development.”

He said China was striving hard to maintain a good balance of reform, development and stability with each facet being “indispensable”.

Liu said the agreements signed during PM Shehbaz’s “very successful” visit provided an opportunity for the two countries to upgrade their ties to bring about desirable changes.

He said the determination of both countries’ leaderships sent a “clear message to the world that the China-Pakistan friendship is unbreakable”.

Calling party-to-party relations an integral part of bilateral relations, Liu said it is time that Pakistan’s political parties contributed their wisdom to turn the blueprint into reality by understanding each other’s development philosophy.

He said the affinity between the two peoples was not commensurate with the iron-clad nature of their friendship and announced that the IDCPC would invite 300 Pakistani parliamentarians to China in three years besides providing scholarships and vocational training to Pakistani youth.

Addressing the JCM, Gilani said all political parties were committed to CPEC as it promoted collaboration in health, education, information technology and other sectors besides its contribution to addressing the power woes of the country.

He urged both sides to work together for a green and resilient future besides strengthening partnership in education and tourism sectors.

Meanwhile, Sadiq said the Parliamentary Committee on CPEC ensured vigilant oversight of the government and followed up on the progress of the projects under CPEC through regular reporting to Parliament.

He reaffirmed the resolve of Parliament, the government and the people of Pakistan to build on past successes and ensure that CPEC reached its full potential.

Iqbal echoed a similar stance, reiterating that despite political differences, all political parties stood unanimous with regards to China and CPEC, and were committed to revitalising the upgraded version.

The minister thanked China for the inclusion of new corridors in CPEC which were aligned with the 5 ‘Es’ framework focusing on exports, equity, empowerment, environment and energy.

Meanwhile, Fazl expressed gratitude to the Chinese leadership for its unconditional support of the Kashmir cause and reiterated Pakistan’s support on the Taiwan issue.

He said both countries had unanimity of views on multiple regional and regional issues, he said, and also called for completion of delayed CPEC projects.

Senator Zafar said CPEC was “proof of the friendship” between Pakistan and China, adding that he hoped that the progress of the project would be hastened.

He said political stability, understanding and cooperation were needed in the country’s climate, along with the rule of law with effective courts.

Pak-China friendship vital for peace, development of both countries: PM

Later, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the Pakistan-China friendship was indispensable for the peace and development of both the countries as well as the region and beyond.

Emphasising the historic and unique significance of bilateral relations between the two countries, the prime minister reaffirmed that the Pakistan-China friendship was “time-tested and enduring”.

Welcoming the Chinese dignitary and members of Liu’s delegation to Pakistan, the prime minister congratulated him as well as the political leaders of Pakistan on the successful organisation of the Pakistan-China Political Parties Forum and the 3rd round of JCM.

He said it was a matter of great satisfaction that there was complete political consensus in both countries on CPEC.

Reflecting on his recent visit to China where he held fruitful and productive meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang, the prime minister commended the vision of the Chinese leadership for the continued growth of Pakistan-China strategic relations and the shared desire of both countries to work together to ensure success of the CPEC and its upgradation to the next phase.

He underlined that early completion and implementation of all ongoing and new CPEC projects would contribute significantly towards Pakistan’s economic growth and inclusive development.

Appreciating the role of the IDCPC in the deepening of bilateral ties, he stressed the importance of enhanced exchanges between the political parties of the two countries for experience-sharing, capacity building and people-centred governance.

He lauded the Communist Party for its full support to strengthening China’s iron-clad brotherhood with Pakistan.

Liu stressed that Pakistan and China were iron brothers, strategic partners and most trusted friends.

He further emphasised that China accorded a special place to Pakistan in its foreign policy and would continue to support Pakistan’s economic development and jointly work for the upgraded version of CPEC.

The prime minister hosted a banquet in honour of Liu and the accompanying Chinese delegation which was also attended by representatives of major political parties.

Army chief pledges full support to CPEC’s successful implementation

Liu also met Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

During the meeting, they discussed matters of mutual interest, including regional peace and stability, and reviewed progress on CPEC, according to a press release from the Inter Services Public Relations.

The COAS reaffirmed Pakistan’s unwavering commitment to the strategic partnership with China and pledged full support for CPEC’s successful implementation.

Liu highlighted that he was visiting Pakistan as a follow-up to the successful meetings between the leadership of the two countries in China earlier this month.

He emphasised the significance of the longstanding brotherly relations between the two nations and expressed satisfaction with the progress achieved on CPEC, reiterating China’s commitment to its timely completion.

Liu also commended Pakistan’s efforts in maintaining regional peace and stability, acknowledging the support of the Pakistan Army in providing security to Chinese nationals and projects in the country.

‘Pakistan has special place in China’s foreign policy’

Earlier, Liu said as its iron brother and time-tested friend, China accorded a special place to Pakistan in its foreign policy and desired to strengthen their all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.

In a meeting with DPM Dar, Liu expressed satisfaction at CPEC’s steady pace and said China would extend full cooperation to Pakistan for the timely implementation of all ongoing and new CPEC projects.

He also lauded the political parties of the country for their steadfast support of CPEC and China-Pakistan friendship.

He reiterated China’s keen desire to further enhance linkages between the Communist Party of China and Pakistan’s political parties.

DPM Dar appreciated CPEC’s positive contribution to Pakistan’s socio-economic development, progress and prosperity.

He underscored that as the flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, CPEC had led to a major transformation in energy security.

Lauding the unanimous political consensus on CPEC in the two countries, Dar expressed Pakistan’s firm resolve to build upon the achievements of CPEC and its high-quality development in Phase II.

The two sides agreed to maintain the momentum of high-level engagements and to further enhance communication on important regional and global issues.

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