The two-day visit of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to Pakistan that began yesterday is designed to give a fillip to the two countries’ political, economic and strategic relations, thus reaffirming and reinforcing their already existing exemplary ties. Speaking at a luncheon held in the visiting dignitary’s honour at Islamabad on Wednesday, President Asif Zardari rightly said that friendship with China was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy and that China had a special place in the hearts and minds of the Pakistanis. He was personally committed to deepen the bilateral ties and had no doubt that the incoming government in Pakistan shared his passion for relations to flourish. Mr Zardari recalled the memory of visionary leaders, Chairman Mao Tse-tung, Prime Minister Zhou Enlie and Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who laid the foundations of the lasting friendship. Later, at a joint press conference, Mr Zardari said that China’s development was a role model for the developing countries. He was thankful to the Chinese government for allocating 500 million yuan for several projects in Pakistan.
Premier Li listed cooperation in power generation as a priority between the two countries. That should chime in with the agenda of the incoming government that wishes to end the plague of loadshedding at the earliest to let the wheels of industry move and the economy revive. Mr Li said that Pak-China friendship was a precious asset and he was certain this friendship would grow unhindered by the winds of change, whether in the internal political setup of either country or in the international scenario. In a pre-visit written interview, he had called Pakistan “Iron Brother” to connote that relations between the two were on a sound, unshakeable footing. In Islamabad, he expressed happiness at the agreement Pakistan and China had reached on establishing a common economic corridor. “Our two sides should focus on carrying out priority projects in connectivity, energy development and power generation, and promoting the building of a China-Pakistan economic corridor,” Mr Li said. He termed Nishan-e-Pakistan conferred on him not only an honour but also a reflection of the deep Pak-China equation.
Several agreements of economic, social, political and strategic importance were signed by the two countries at a special ceremony. Mr Li and Prime Minister-elect Mian Nawaz Sharif are scheduled to meet today when they are expected to explore new vistas of cooperation and, especially, take further the idea of China’s help in getting over the acute energy crisis that has virtually brought the life in Pakistan to a standstill.