PM’s China visit adds another chapter of close strategic cooperation between ‘iron brothers’

ISLAMABAD: The proverbial strategic cooperative partnership between Pakistan and China gets another thrust with the recently concluded visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party inherited an international famed ‘bubble and burst’ economy due to serious financial crunches in terms of foreign debt payments and current account deficit.

The visit also helped in removal of a mist of misunderstanding created by a coterie of vested interests over the fate of projects under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship of Chinese most economic ambitious ‘Belt and Road’ initiative.

As the global scenario witnessed gradual shift from forming alliances driven by juggernaut of animosity, bellicosity and war mongering, a scar left behind on the international ties by the Cold War, post Cold War eras and the New World Order, the geo-politics necessitated formulation of policies for economic cooperation and openness aimed at shared destiny which now permeates the world capitals.

The Pak-China ties reflects the same pattern of warmth and closeness transcending the regional preferences and rooted deeply in the regional and international economic stability and prosperity and which has always been aptly akin to the two as “iron brothers”.

It was the maiden visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Beijing, whereas the Chinese leadership was also anxious to meet the new leadership of Pakistan, where the people dissatisfied with ennui of traditional politics, had voted for the PTI with great expectations to bring radical changes.

Such is the camaraderie between the two countries that withstood the test of time and the changes in domestic, regional and international environments.

The new sinews to the all weather friendship was added as the top leaderships from both the countries renewed their pledge to build a shared future in the era of challenges in line with the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good-neighbourly Relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan reached in 2005.

From these high level meetings, the consensus was generated over this proverbial friendship and cooperation between China and Pakistan as a lever for serving the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples.

The PM’s visit was also keenly viewed by the international and regional media from a strategic and long-term perspective.

Prime Minister Imran Khan adroitly explored the opportunity by inviting the leaders of Chinese companies and businessmen for investment under the CPEC projects. The country possessed immense mineral exploration opportunities as the mineral rich swaths of the country remained untapped, besides about 100 million youth under the age of 35 years could serve as an active and vibrant force behind all the investment ventures.

The prime minister had already pronounced his keenness to learn from the Chinese experiences and economic strategies as springboard for the economic turnaround by lifting 700 million Chinese people out of poverty through remedial governance measures.

During his visit to Shanghai, he also pronounced to unveil a poverty alleviation plan in Pakistan on the footprints of Chinese model, besides formation of a high powered think-tank to guide the government on a number of issues.

It is also heartening to note that the two sides reiterated that CPEC represents a win-win model of international cooperation, which has provided new opportunities for economic rejuvenation and prosperity of all, especially the Eurasian countries with larger connectivity.

As a signature project, the fast pace on the CPEC projects has played a significant role in the Belt and Road cooperation.

Both sides also reviewed the early harvest phase of CPEC and expressed satisfaction over the progress witnessed in all areas, especially in the energy and power sector.

The two sides reaffirmed their complete consensus on the future trajectory of the CPEC, timely completion of on-going projects and joint efforts for realization of its full potential with a focus on socio-economic development, job creation and livelihoods, and accelerating cooperation in industrial development, industrial parks and agriculture.

Dr Abid Sulehri, a renowned economic and a think tank, who closely follows Pak-China ties and progress on CPEC, said the prime minister’s visit renewed the decades old friendship between the two countries. These ties were based upon state-to-state and people-to-people contacts, irrespective of the political forces at the helms of affairs.

China had also suggested investment and cooperation in other projects like agriculture etc; which means expansion of the CPEC, he added. Overall the PM’s visit to China could be termed the encouraging one.

During the visit both the countries also supported each other’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and security.

The Chinese leadership also appreciated Pakistan’s important role in promoting regional peace, stability and security and efforts for the peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues with its neighbours.

During the visit, the two sides also signed 15 agreements/memorandums of understanding on a range of bilateral issues to reinforce the close cooperation.