ISLAMABAD: Assuring Islamabad of standing with it through thick and thin, Chinese President Xi Jinping was all praise to the people and the government of Pakistan for rendering matchless sacrifices being a frontline state against terrorism, and expressed the hope that Pakistan has the economic capability to transform into an ‘Asian Tiger’.
Addressing joint session of the parliament, President Xi said, strong relations with Pakistan will remain top priority of China’s diplomatic agenda. Regardless of changes at the international level, China will continue to see Pakistan in strategic and long-term perspective, he told lawmakers amid repeated desk-thumping.
The Chinese president, on the second day of his two-day state visit, thanked the Pakistani parliamentarians for having him in the session and showed his ecstasy for addressing the huge gathering. Lauding the people of Pakistan, he stated that Pakistanis are kind, brave, dignified, confident and patriotic. He said the Economic Corridor project will benefit not only the region but also every citizen of Pakistan. In the next five years, China would provide several training opportunities to Pakistanis, he added.
Pakistan is China’s friend, brother and neighbour, Xi remarked. He said Pak-China friendship is a heritage for the future generations. He said Shahra-e-Karakoram is a bond between two civilisations. Quoting the national poet of Pakistan, Xi Jinping said that Poet of the East Allama Muhammad Iqbal had said in 1930 that China would appear to be one of the greatest powers in the world.
The Chinese president assured to help Pakistan in initiating developmental projects in Fata. He said no one can destroy the “sincere friendship of Pakistan and China” as both states have promised to respect the policies of each other rather than criticising the acts. About Pakistan’s economic efforts, he said the country has made a rapid economic progress.
He announced his country firmly supports Pakistan’s commitment to uphold its sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity. About his visit to Pakistan, Xi Jinping said he chose Pakistan as the first country to visit this year which reflects “our deep-rooted love and affection besides our desire to give new impetus to our relations”.
About Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terror, President Xi said that the sacrifices of the people of Pakistan rendered while combating terrorism will be remembered. “We will always support Pakistan’s struggles for the peace in the region. I remember the time when China was all alone in the world and Pakistan supported us,” the president remarked. He also remarked that Pakistan is one of the first countries which recognised China and it was the first Islamic country to develop diplomatic relations with Beijing.
“Over the years Pakistan has overcome all kinds of difficulties and contributed greatly to the security and stability of China’s western border areas and this is something that we shall never forget,” Xi told the parliament in what was interpreted by some news agencies as a reference to help in curbing insurgency relating to Xinjiang.
“Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two countries have made concerted efforts to forge strong relations and pursue development. We have always supported each other on core issues. Such a friendship is truly unique”. Xi also said both countries have always come forward with selfless and valuable assistance to each other in difficult times.
Giving a future roadmap for a more robust strategic partnership, the Chinese leader said both the countries need to work together to strengthen their friendship and economic relations. “We should continue to support each other on core issues and remain each other’s dependable partners,” he said, adding groups of 100 youth from each country should also visit the other to strengthen people-to-people contact. He announced his country will provide training to 2,000 Pakistani youth in diverse fields in the next five years. As many as 1,000 teaching staff will also be trained in Chinese language, he added.
Xi said both the countries should maintain strategic communication on regional and international issues. “Both countries share common threats and they should stick together to confront them.” He said China supports Pakistan’s constructive role in Afghanistan. President Xi said China is a peace-loving country and it wants to promote relations with all the South Asian countries. “We will open in all respects in order to build an open economy. The Silk Route project is a significant move on part of China to fully open up,” he added.
Later, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in a vote of thanks, said Pakistan considers China’s security as its own security. “We will fight together to eliminate terrorism. Our joint efforts in this regard have succeeded but we need to intensify these efforts.” Pakistan would continue to support One-China Policy and China’s stand on its core national interests, Nawaz said. “We appreciate China’s solidarity with Pakistan in our quest for peace and stability in South Asia,” he noted.
The premier further said they applaud Chinese vision of ‘Community of Shared Destiny’, underpinned by “One Belt, One Road”. This vision is anchored in the strong desire of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe to cement their common bonds, he said. “Pakistan-China Economic Corridor is a product of our joint endeavours at the conceptual and operational levels… It has moved fast into the implementation phase,” he said, adding this is a catalytic project that will help both states combine the geostrategic and geo-economic streams of bilateral relationship.
Nawaz Sharif was hopeful it would benefit the entire country. “The Corridor will stimulate completion of the projects in the areas of transportation infrastructure, energy and industrial development,” he said, and paid thanks to the Chinese leadership, state institutions, banks and corporations for supporting all these projects. About energy crisis, the PM said Pakistan pays thanks for China’s commitment to help resolve the energy crisis and make it self-sufficient in energy.
The prime minister said Pak-China defence ties are strong and poised to become stronger. “This year is the year of friendly exchanges. Let the youth of the two countries inherit this unique relationship that we have developed over the decades and take it to new heights,” he said, and hoped that both countries’ general public and professionals would sustain friendship and make it even more productive.
“Your visit and your address are historic, as we look at our relationship over the next 15 years and beyond. I appreciate all members of your delegation for their diligent preparation,” he said. Chinese President’s visit had not only galvanised the people of China but also inspired the people of Pakistan, he said. Quoting Confucius on friendship, he said China is not a friend from afar but one who is so close to our heart.
Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah, in his welcoming address from opposition side, said that Chinese President’s visit would further strengthen bilateral ties and contribute a lot to the prosperity of the two nations. “Both nations are keen and active to further develop cooperation in every field of life,” said Shah, adding both countries have attained many milestones in their bilateral ties. “I hope this friendship rooted in the hearts and minds of the people will continue to grow forever,” he remarked.
The PPP under the visionary leadership of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto laid the foundations of strong relationship with China, Shah said. Through his vision, Bhutto made this relationship as an essential and never changing pillar of the foreign policy of Pakistan, he said, adding that Benazir continued the legacy of her father which was further cemented by former Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.
National Assembly Speaker Iyaz Sadiq in his speech said it is historic as it’s the first address by any foreign dignitary to the present Parliament while President Xi is the fourth Chinese leader to address Pakistani parliament in the history of the country. He said these landmarks reflect the deep bonds, which have continued to prosper between the two great nations for over six decades. “It’s a brother’s homecoming. It’s a reunion of one big family. It’s a keenly awaited visit by a friend indeed!” he remarked. He said the House notes with great satisfaction that the successive leaderships of the two countries have diligently worked to translate the Sino-Pak relations into meaningful cooperation.
The joint session of parliament was also attended by the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, the three services chiefs, governors, chief ministers and diplomats from various countries.
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