Alwaght- Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met on Saturday with visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Islamabad, where they agreed to strengthen the strategic cooperation partnership between the two countries.
After a detailed meeting, the Chinese foreign minister, who is currently in Pakistan on a three-day official visit, held a joint press conference with Qureshi to tell the media that the two sides have decided to initiate strategic dialogue and further enhance bilateral economic relations.
According to Xinhua the two sides agreed to enhance exchanges between the two sides' legislative organs and push forward the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The Chinese news agency cited Wang Yi as saying that said that the friendship between the peoples of the two countries is the foundation of the sustainable development of bilateral ties and the driving force of bilateral all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.
Stressing ties between China and Pakistan as all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, Wang said relations between the two countries have been established on the basis of long-term mutual understanding, mutual support and mutual trust beyond party differences and government changes.
China and Pakistan are "iron brothers" who have forged time-tested friendship, Wang said.
Pakistani foreign minister, for his part, said that the two sides discussed various matters of mutual interest, including the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said the two sides had discussed special economic zones along with the CPEC during their meeting today.
He said CPEC is 'proof' that the belt programme is a sustainable initiative. "The CPEC is proof of how seamless the belt and road initiative can become with the help of all stakeholders," he said.
The minister added that the Chinese foreign minister had extended an invitation to Imran to visit an expo in China in November as a guest of honour. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang were also invited to visit Pakistan.
During the meeting, many pressing issues were discussed, he said, adding that the need for close communication on regional issues was also highlighted during the meeting.
"CPEC will remain a priority for the government," he said.
Qureshi said that during today's meeting, he had shared the priorities of the new government in Islamabad with his Chinese counterpart. The security of Chinese nationals working in Pakistan was also discussed, he added.
"We are proud of Pakistan and China's friendship," Qureshi had said before the meeting, noting that the friendship had "withstood every test".
The Pakistani top diplomat added that the two sides had also discussed that poverty alleviation and social development be incorporated into the future joint endeavors.
The visit of the Chinese FM also acquired special significance as it is taking place days after a similar visit by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Joseph Dunford, in which the US had called for resetting ties newly elected Pakistani government and reached an understanding that the Trump administration and the new Pakistani government.
It appears that despite the deepening gaps, the latest of which caused by the US suspension of $300 million in aids to Pakistan, Washington counts on Islamabad role to help realize its objectives in the region. Afghanistan is the key area where the Americans need the Pakistani assistance.
Pakistan provides the closest route for logistical support to the Afghanistan-based US forces. The Americans send forces and military equipment to the Afghan battlegrounds via Pakistan's air and ground.
Another area of need for cooperation with the Pakistani government is the newly-adopted strategy of direct negotiations with the Taliban. In mid-July, the Taliban demanded face-to-face talks to the Americans, something Trump approved of by ordering senior American diplomats to hold meetings with the militant group’s representatives in Doha, Qatar.
The White House finds Pakistan a sway holder in Afghanistan and thus a player with great capabilities to push forward the peace negotiations with the militants. Islamabad has always rejected military action as a solution to Afghanistan crisis, insisting that dialogue is the most productive option.
Another reason for Pompeo to seek to relax the tensions with Islamabad is a need for the Pakistani government and army to continue their crackdown on the militant groups inside the country with potential risks to the US interests. The US is concerned that Islamabad may avoid fighting these groups. In November 2017, the Congress tied a $350 million aid package to Pakistan to the government’s confrontation of Haqqani Network, an anti-American militant group in Pakistan.
Pompeo also sought to prevent further Pakistan closeness to China and Russia. The trip came ahead of a visit to India, trying to make it clear to Islamabad that Washington is committed to a balance between Pakistan and India as two regional powers. A more accurate message could be that if Pakistan complies with the US policies in West and Central Asia, the financial and military aids could reflow.