ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has assured China’s ambassador in Pakistan that his party’s November 2 protest in Islamabad is not linked with the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), The Express Tribune has learned.
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This assurance given during a meeting between the PTI leadership and Chinese envoy Sun Weidong, who called on Imran at his Bani Gala residence on Tuesday.
Officially, there was no word from the PTI on the meeting, but sources said discussions revolved round CPEC and PTI’s upcoming sit-in which aims to force Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to present himself for accountability.
Reportedly, Imran sought to address the Chinese envoy’s reservations on the PTI sit-in as he clarified that the protest was being held against ‘rampant corruption’ of the government and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and had nothing to do with CPEC.
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The PTI delegation, including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Naeemul Haq and others, conveyed their reservations over the fact that the project’s western route was not being given priority, insiders said.
The envoy told the delegation that the Chinese government was following a holistic approach and that Beijing had no intention or plan to ignore any particular route. He said the related routes were mapped out while weighing in the feasibility factor and pros and cons.
“It’s a government-to-government agreement between Pakistan and China,” the Chinese ambassador was quoted as saying. He also assured the PTI leadership that Chinese authorities were willing to alley reservations of the K-P government on the western route in case they concerned China.
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Weidong reportedly said that issues concerning the CPEC linked to Pakistan needed to be resolved by the federal and provincial governments through consultation.
Sources said the Chinese Embassy did not want any projection of the meeting and asked the PTI not to issue any press release of the event.
“The meeting was kept low-key. We lived up to our promise and did not issue any official handout. Instead, pictures have been released to spread the word around that the meeting did take place,” a source privy to the matter said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2016.