Top civil, military huddle gives final touches to PM's China visit

By Mian Abrar | Gwadar Pro Jan 27, 2022

ISLAMABAD, Jan 27(Gwadar Pro)-Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday chaired an important meeting with top civilian and military officials, in attendance to finalize the agenda for the upcoming crucial visit to China.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry attended the meeting. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and chiefs of intelligence agencies also attended.

This would be the fourth visit of Prime Minister Khan to China, which is significant in the wake of regional and global developments taking place.

On the sidelines of the Beijing Olympics, the prime minister will meet the top Chinese leadership, where the focus would be on reviewing the progress on CPEC and other key regional and international issues.

He is also likely to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing. While the relationship between the US and Pakistan witnessed a slide in the recent past, especially Prime Minister Khan's decision to skip the US Summit on Democracy, the ties with China need a new push.

Experts believe that new projects related to China, Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are likely to be announced during Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to Beijing, including the long-awaited ML-I. The project is pending for a year due to identification of funding sources and differences over the project cost.

Pakistan has been awaiting a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping since the pandemic broke out. Prime Minister Khan's visit may be an appropriate occasion to announce the pending projects.

Khan's visit to Beijing to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing also carries huge political costs as it may further deteriorate Khan's relationship with the US leadership. Almost all western leaders have observed an unannounced boycott of the Beijing Olympics.

Pakistan's civil and military leadership has made strides in the past few months to allay the concerns of the Chinese leadership about security issues to the Chinese workers in Pakistan.

Following the terrorist attack in July last year at Dasu Hydroelectric Power project that left 10 Chinese workers dead, the Chinese side made it clear that security of Chinese nationals and their interests was paramount for any progress on CPEC and other Chinese projects.

In order to address concerns of China, Pakistan has not only revisited some of the security protocols for the Chinese projects but also approved $11.6 million for the victims of the Dasu terrorist attack.

The announcement of compensation and other measures, officials feel, would help address concerns of China. Hence, the official sources said, the visit of Imran Khan would further define the foreign policy priorities of Pakistan.

During the meeting, professional matters pertaining to the Pakistan Army were discussed, the Prime Minister's Office said on its official Twitter account.The visit would be followed up by two major events. Pakistan is going to host international delegates on its National Day on March 23.

A high-profile military parade would be a part of the National Day celebrations where China's J-10C aircraft would also feature. The premier also held a separate meeting with the army chief and the DG-ISI.

Official sources opine that Prime Minister Imran would convey to the Chinese leadership that Pakistan considered CPEC central to its economic growth and prosperity and hence all efforts would be made to expedite the progress. The sources said that Pakistan has already announced that its economic future is linked to China and Beijing would have to take appropriate measures to help Pakistan make progress in the right direction.

An official handout said the participants were briefed on the agenda of the upcoming visit that covers further collaboration with China in fields of investment, trade, exports and information technology.

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