Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is leaving for a two-day official visit to China from November 1. This is Shahbaz Sharif’s first visit to Beijing after assuming the post of Prime Minister, which is being given importance in the context of bilateral relations and the situation in the region.
Observers say that the new coalition government is trying to get new investments and debt relief from a long-time friend and neighbor to pull the country out of the economic crisis.
Examining the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), expanding its projects and seeking concessions for repayment of loans provided under it are on the agenda of the Prime Minister’s visit.
Former diplomat Masood Khalid, who served as Pakistan’s ambassador to China, has said that during Shahbaz Sharif’s visit to China, issues such as bilateral relations, cooperation, and the situation in the region, along with adopting a common position at international forums, will be discussed. .
While talking to Alpha newspaper he said that this is Shahbaz Sharif’s first visit to Beijing after being elected as the Prime Minister, in which the situation after the withdrawal of America from Afghanistan, the Ukraine-Russia war, the growing ceremonies between America and India, and the Kashmir issue. And the border tension with India will also be discussed.
He said that Pakistan wants to invest through the Chinese private sector and investment companies to improve its economic conditions.
While discussing the importance of Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Beijing, Shakeel Ahmad Ramey, director of a think tank in Islamabad working on China, said that this visit is taking place at a time when Pakistan’s economic problems have intensified and this year The situation has become more serious due to the ravages of the coming floods.
Talking to Alphanespaper, he said that Islamabad was already getting new loans to repay the debts and now that the losses due to the floods have been estimated at billions of dollars. Therefore, Pakistan needs external support and investment more than ever. He says that under these circumstances, it is likely that there will be agreements to expand the CPEC, in which the technology corridor and green road projects are important.
Masood Khalid says that Pakistan and China have to take CPEC forward and there is no ambiguity or hesitation in this regard in both countries.
He said that the CPEC has been slow during the previous government period and the present government wants to speed it up and start the second phase as well.
He said that although CPEC has been slow in recent years, but despite this, 26 billion dollars have been invested under this project, which has created many employment opportunities in the country.
Talking about China’s concerns regarding the security of its citizens in Pakistan, Masood Khalid said that Islamabad has established a special security division to protect Chinese citizens and projects.
He said that the government of Pakistan is fulfilling its responsibility regarding security and cooperation between the two countries is also continuing in this regard. However, the countries opposed to Pakistan-China friendship want to sabotage the CPEC and use terrorist elements for this. Are
Will China reschedule Pakistan’s loans?
The government of Pakistan is keen to extend the repayment period of the $6.3 billion Chinese loan. In addition, Islamabad does not want to seek further financial assistance to shore up its dwindling foreign exchange reserves.
Regarding the review of China’s debt repayment and getting the facility in this regard, recently, the United States also emphasized in the context of the flood disaster in Pakistan to waive and restructure the loans from China. try to
In response, the spokesperson of China’s Foreign Ministry said that the US should do something “genuine and useful” for flood-affected Pakistan, calling the US statement an “unnecessary criticism of Pakistan-China cooperation”. It was also condemned.
Earlier, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres also proposed to give concessions in the payment of Pakistan’s debts.
According to former diplomat Masood Khalid, Pakistan would like to facilitate the repayment of loans due to floods and bad economic situation, and in his opinion, there will definitely be a discussion on this issue during the visit of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
He said that the facilitation of China’s debt repayment is a bilateral matter and there is no need for international financial institutions to make a statement in this regard.
Masood Khalid says that whether it is the recent floods or the supply of vaccines during the Corona epidemic, China has helped Pakistan in every difficulty.
Shakeel Ramey said that last year China had extended the repayment period of Pakistan’s $4.5 billion loan which is about to be completed now.
He said that China not only facilitated debt repayment to Pakistan but also increased its investment and still hoped that China would facilitate debt repayment.
He says that China is cooperating with Pakistan at all levels, but the Paris Club and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should also come forward in providing financial support to the country affected by the natural disaster.
It should be remembered that before Shahbaz Sharif’s visit, China has increased the amount of aid for reconstruction in flood-affected areas from 30 million yuan to 80 million yuan.
In a statement of the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, it is said that after the devastating floods in Pakistan, China has provided the biggest aid to Pakistan.
Why was the visit delayed?
Shahbaz Sharif has to wait for 6 months for his visit to China. He had expressed his desire to visit Beijing soon after assuming power.
It has been a tradition in Pakistan that the newly elected Prime Minister visits China in the initial weeks immediately after the election of the Prime Minister, but Shahbaz Sharif had to wait for more than 6 months before receiving an invitation from China. .
According to observers, there are several reasons for this delay, among which apart from internal conditions, one of the reasons is the strict coronavirus protocol implemented in China. However, it is believed that China was concerned about the domestic political situation of Pakistan while inviting Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Masood Khalid said that the reason behind the delay in Shahbaz Sharif’s visit is not the political situation in Pakistan, but it is related to the busyness of the Chinese leadership and the strict rules of the coronavirus. Have not visited. For China, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party is very important, in which the decision to make Xi Jinping the president for the third time is an unconventional decision.
He said that the visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan is of great importance, as he is the first head of state to meet Xi Jinping in Beijing after his re-election.
He says that although this is Shahbaz Sharif’s first official visit to Beijing, there are regular contacts between the two countries and the two leaders met on the sidelines of the SCO meeting.
What engagements will Shahbaz Sharif have in China?
According to the details of the Prime Minister’s visit to China released by the Foreign Office, Shahbaz Sharif is visiting on the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang and a high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto will also accompany him.
According to the Foreign Office, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit is a link of continuous contacts between the two countries at the leadership level and Shahbaz Sharif will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping during the visit.
Earlier, Shahbaz Sharif had met Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, which was held in Uzbekistan in mid-September.
According to the Foreign Office of Pakistan, many memorandums of understanding and agreements are likely to be signed during the visit and progress is expected on the agenda of wider bilateral cooperation between the two countries. The pace is expected to increase further.
Before his visit to Beijing, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong on Tuesday and discussed the visit in detail.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, while giving an interview to China Global Television Network before the visit, has expressed hope that his upcoming visit to China will deepen Pakistan-China strategic relations and increase bilateral trade and business relations.