ISLAMABAD: Army chief General Raheel Sharif has reassured senior Chinese leaders that the military will ensure a secure environment for timely completion of the multibillion-dollar network of roads and rails connecting the Gwadar deep seaport with Xinjiang.
The army chief held out this assurance during a meeting with Zhang Chunxian, Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), who met him at the GHQ on Tuesday.
‘CPEC a game changer only if Pakistan tackles security issues’
He reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to ensuring a secure environment for timely completion and subsequent management of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the best interest of a prosperous region.
According to the military’s media wing, matters of mutual interest, regional stability and measures to enhance bilateral defence and security collaboration were discussed in the meeting.
Zhang acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism, and appreciated the successes achieved in the ongoing operation Zarb-e-Azb. He also underlined the importance of CPEC, saying the multibillion-dollar project would have significant long-term impact on the region.
Earlier, Zhang, along with the secretary (CPC) Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, also met Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz. Chunxian is heading a high-level delegation which also visited Karachi and Gwadar port to review progress on CPEC.
The two sides discussed a wide range of bilateral issues such as trade, investment, economic cooperation, including CPEC, people-to-people contacts, culture, education and science and technology, the Foreign Office said in a statement.
Aziz emphasised that friendship with China was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. The all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries is an anchor for regional peace and stability.
Thanking Aziz for the warm hospitality, Zhang said Pakistan and China were ‘iron brothers’ joined by land, mountains and rivers.
Pakistan Army to establish HQ in Diamer district to ensure CPEC security
Reiterating China’s unflinching support to Pakistan’s sovereignty, national security and territorial integrity, he lauded Islamabad’s efforts against terrorism and recognised the sacrifices made by its people in this campaign.
Expressing commitment to CPEC, he said it was a flagship project of President Xi Jinping’s ‘One Belt-One Road’ initiative to which the Chinese leadership was attaching great importance.
Zhang emphasised that CPEC would yield economic benefits to the people of China and Pakistan as well as the region.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2016.
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