APD | Pakistan’s PM plans a crucial visit to China early next month



*Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: [email protected]). *

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, has planned a visit to China. He has been to China several times and considers China his second home. But, this will be his first visit in the capacity of Prime Minister of Pakistan. He will be the first foreign dignitary to visit China after the very important the 20th National Congress of the CPC.

The visit is amidst the rapidly changing geopolitics, where many nations are re-aligning their position in global politics and alliances. Pakistan due to its critical geo-strategic location has been important to many superpowers and always played a decisive role in making or breaking world order.

Despite Pakistan being in the American club for almost seven decades, but, always kept a strategic partnership with China, without harming its relations with the US. Whereas, Pakistan was a signatory to several important agreements and pacts with the US, including defense oriented like Baghdad Pact, Manila Pact, RCD, SEATO, CENTO, etc., yet stood with China during the economic blockade imposed by the US against China. Chairman Mao said in 1955 that Pakistan is like a window for China, connecting with the rest of the world. Pakistan was the only country, through which China was accessing the rest of the World.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US was the result of hardcore diplomacy played by Pakistan. China always trusted Pakistan, and the US was also depending on Pakistan for its relations with China. Both, China and the US were beneficiaries of Pakistan’s role, and China always acknowledged it openly.

The current policy of the US to contain China and resist the rise of China is immense pressure on Pakistan. Yet, Pakistan has to keep balance and look after its vital interests. Pakistan desires to restore its good relations with the US, yet, wanted to keep its strategic partnership with China as usual.

The Chinese leadership understands Pakistan’s situation and always extended a helping hand, in either situation. This visit is of high significance and may open many new avenues of cooperation and collaboration.

However, the important issues under consideration during the visit are:-

• Some of the Agreements/ Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) to be signed are: (i) (10,000MWp solar projects; (ii) procurement of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG); (iii) debt restructuring; (iv) ML-1; (v) Karachi Circular Railway; (vi) Agriculture; (vii) opening of RMB Account;( viii) cyber security; (ix ) flood relief and rehabilitation; and (x) relocation of Chinese industries in the SEZs.

• On October 11, SAPM Syed Tariq Fatemi, on the instructions of the Prime Minister, invited Advisor to Prime Minister on Establishment Ahad Cheema, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr. Jehanzeb Khan, and Zafaruddin Mahmood to meet the Chinese ambassador to firm up preparations for the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to Beijing next month.

• During the course of the meeting, the Pakistani side explored the possibility of signing Agreements/ MoUs, after fulfilling codal formalities with the Chinese side on a number of important projects of mutual interest. The Chinese ambassador was requested to inform the relevant departments of his government that he would favor the signing of such pacts.

• Recently, Prime Minister discussed the proposal to construct a railway track from Thar Coal Block-II to Chor Station and the upgradation of the existing track from Hyderabad to Mirpurkhas, for transportation of Thar coal to various power plants in the country currently operating on imported coal.

• Prime Minister emphasized the importance of the project ML-1 being one of the most important projects for Pakistan’s economy due to its long-term benefit of shifting reliance from external to local sources of energy generation and significant savings in Foreign Exchange.

CPEC is the core of China-Pakistan economic and development cooperation and will remain the main agenda of the visit. China also considers it a flagship project and wanted to set a model of successful win-win cooperation between two friendly nations.

High expectations are attached to his upcoming visit and may transform the new era of friendship and partnership in the nations of shared destiny.