ISLAMABAD - Pakistan said yesterday it will multiply cooperation with China in the years to come.
Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said the visit of Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng was one of the recent highlights.
She said there were also positive and fruitful visits by Turkish Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz, and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian.
“Vice Premier of the State Council of China, He Lifeng, visited Pakistan as Special Representative of President Xi Jinping in connection with the 10th anniversary of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” she added. The visit, she said, was an opportunity for the two sides to discuss bilateral relations and explore new horizons of collaboration in trade and investment.
“The two sides reaffirmed their continued commitment to CPEC, expressed their firm resolve to build upon the achievements of the last decade, and to continue cooperation for further developing it as a high-quality demonstrable project of BRI,” she elaborated.
CPEC, Baloch said, had brought huge dividends to Pakistan as manifested in the creation of over 200,000 jobs; addition of 8000 MW power to national grid; building of 510 kilometers of highways and 932 kilometers of road network; and a 820-kilometer long optical fiber line. “Areas of cooperation under Phase-II of CPEC include rural revitalization; agricultural development; industrialization; green development and science and technology. The two countries remain committed to enhance cooperation under CPEC and develop it as a connectivity project for the region,” she said.
She said on July 31, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari attended the 18th Extraordinary Meeting of the OIC CFM convened to debate the recurring incidents of the desecration of the Holy Quran.
“The Foreign Minister condemned the Islamophobic and hateful acts of desecration of the Holy Quran and underscored the need for shunning religious hatred and for promoting inter-faith harmony and peaceful co-existence. He reiterated the call for appointment of a UN Special Envoy to combat Islamophobia,” she said.
Baloch added: “We are pleased with the outcome of the Extraordinary CFM that adopted a comprehensive resolution endorsing the 8-point action plan unanimously agreed upon by UN Human Rights Council to counter incitement to hatred, discrimination, stigmatization and violence based on religion and belief.”
She said Pakistan’s Cricket Team will participate in the ICC Cricket World Cup to be held in India. “Our decision to participate reflects Pakistan’s consistent position that sports cannot not be mixed with politics. Pakistan’s constructive and responsible approach contrasts with that of India which has repeatedly politicized sports by refusing to send its Cricket Team to Pakistan for the Asia Cup or denying visas for Pakistan’s Blind Cricket Team,” she remarked.
The spokesperson said on August 5, the Pakistani nation expressed complete solidarity with Kashmiris on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
Since 2019, India has taken a series of measures to alter the demographic makeup of IIOJK, and intensified its suppression of the Kashmiri people, she added. “India has carried out a selective delimitation of electoral constituencies, issued fake domiciles to millions of non-Kashmiris, and added hundreds of thousands of temporary residents to alter the existing voter rolls. These measures are aimed at disenfranchising the people of Kashmir and converting them into a disempowered minority in their own land in gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the spokesperson said.
She underlined that as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said, Pakistan continues to believe that peace between Pakistan and India was critical for the future of our peoples and for the prosperity of our region.
“We also believe that dialogue is important between Pakistan and India in an environment which is free of coercion and free of belligerence that India continues to demonstrate in the region. We believe that the ball is in India’s court to create an environment for peace and dialogue,” she said.
To a question, she said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been in contact with the Embassy of Afghanistan and with the Afghan authorities on a recent terror incident.
“We have shared with them the discovery that we have made with regard to the identity of terrorists who were involved in attack on personnel of the Pakistan army in the attack in the Zhob garrison in Balochistan. We have reiterated on several occasions that the Afghan soil should not be used to foment terrorism against Pakistan,” the spokesperson said.
To another question, Baloch said Pakistan had always called for peace between the warring parties. “We believe that peace between Ukraine and Russia is key for the stability and peace in the region and beyond and for arresting inflation in energy and challenges in food supplies. Pakistan, therefore, supports all efforts that aim at finding a negotiated peaceful end to this conflict,” she added.
Regarding the foreign visits of Foreign Minister Bilawal, she said the number of foreign visits that the Foreign Minister has undertaken during his tenure as Foreign Minister was 36.
She said Pakistan also focused on projecting the Kashmir cause as the core of our diplomacy. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has spearheaded the campaign to project the Kashmir cause at the international level. We were extensively involved in raising global awareness to the catastrophic floods that took place last year, in coordinating international response and in organizing the international conference on climate resilient Pakistan held in Geneva. One of our major successes last year was Pakistan’s exit from the FATF grey list and the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP 27,” she underscored. Pakistan, she said, “also took a leadership position on issues pertaining to the Islamic world, including Islamophobia and on women empowerment in Islam. It also led efforts for cooperation between developing countries on sustainable development and on a range of other issues that are important for the developing countries including climate change.”