No Chinese Troops In Pakistan

No Chinese Troops In Pakistan

24 May 2013
The Nation
Maqbool Malik

Islamabad: Rejecting presence of any Chinese forces in northern areas of Pakistan, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani Friday expressed the hope that growing relations between China and India would help contribute to peace and stability in the region. “Relations between Pakistan and China are robust. We have convergence of views, mutual trust, geographical proximity and similarity of views on regional and global issues,” Jilani told the weekly press briefing. About India-China relations, Foreign Secretary said, 'We have our own relations with China and China is developing its own relations with India.' As a gesture of goodwill, the foreign secretary said, Pakistan on Friday released 45 Indian prisoners, which would be repatriated today via Wagha border. On China's role in improving situation in Afghanistan, the foreign secretary said, China is a major partner in development in Afghanistan and also engaged with Pakistan and Afghan leadership to further improve situation. He pointed out that a trilateral meeting of Pakistan, China and Russia on Afghanistan would soon be held to review the situation. When asked about the fate of Iran Pakistan gas pipeline project, he said foreign policy of any government or country is based on national consensus and interests and it did not change with the change of the government. 'I don't think there will be any major shift in foreign policy with the change of the government,” he added. As regards the visit of the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Pakistan, he said it was “very important for us” and was basically aimed at conveying strong message of solidarity and to further strengthen bilateral relations in all the fields. “It was very successful visit and would help strengthen economic and strategic relations between the two countries,” he said. Jilani said that Premier Li’s visit provided an opportunity to discuss entire gamut of bilateral cooperation, and regional and international issues. He said the visit was also significant because it demonstrated the continuity of the strategic partnership Pakistan has with China. He said it would help solidify the relations, enhance economic, strategic, defence ties and people to people contacts adding agreements worth millions of dollars were signed between the two countries to enhance economic cooperation. Pakistan's Ambassador to China Masood Khalid, who was also present, said that presently the balance of trade was in favour of China, adding that Pakistan had 3.2 billion dollars share in last year's $12.5 billion bilateral trade and efforts were being made to increase Pakistan's share in trade with China. When his attention was drawn towards growing trade disputes, the ambassador said there were complaints on certain issues from both sides and the embassy has been making efforts to resolve these issues amicably. Answering a question, Foreign Secretary Jilani said no new agreement on civil nuclear technology was signed between the two countries, adding that civil nuclear cooperation with China is an ongoing process and it is within the international safeguards. To another question regarding cooperation on counter-terrorism and threats to China, he said, Pakistan regards any threat to China as a threat to itself and there was excellent cooperation going on between security agencies of the two countries in this regard. On energy cooperation with China, the secretary said Chinese companies are working on several hydle, thermal and wind power projects in Pakistan, adding that an important meeting of Joint Energy Working Group would soon be held to take stock of Pakistan's energy requirements and find ways and means to increase cooperation in this regard. Ambassador Masood, explaining the engagement of China in energy sectors, said some of these projects included Guddu Power Project, Kohala Energy Project, Mangala Raising Project, Jimpir Energy Project in Sindh and some other projects. Similarly, he said that people to people contacts between Pakistan and China was also increasing as China would establish more language institutes for Pakistani people to learn Chinese. Referring to agreements and MoUs during the visit of Chinese Premier, he said these MoUs and agreements would further improve economic and trade relations between the two countries. He said the most important MoU is on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will help in building infrastructure in the region for further improving trade and economic ties. He confirmed that Pakistan formally handed over Gwadar to China during the visit of Chinese Premier.