Prime Minister Imran Khan has unequivocally asserted that Pakistan would not bring any change in its ties with the time-tested ally, China, saying “it is very unfair for the US and all other powers like us to take sides”.
In an interview with English-language China Global Television Network (CGTN), the prime minister stressed that China and Pakistan had “a very special relationship” that had only grown stronger over the past 70 years.
In a video clip of the interview shared by the prime minister on his official Facebook account, the anchor-person mentioned the significance of the interview, saying that it was being conducted at a time when the Communist Party of China was celebrating 100th anniversary of its foundation, while the two countries were celebrating 70th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic relations.
Responding to a question about the bilateral relations, the prime minister said that these ties had only grown stronger with the passage of time and added that both the countries had “always stood together” at international forums.
Speaking about the regional context, Imran mentioned the Sino-US rivalry, and the formation of the so-called Quad – a group of four nations: US, Japan, India and Australia. He indicated that Pakistan was being pressured by the West to change its relationship with China.
“And now when you talk about the region, there is this strange, great power rivalry taking place, you see the United States being wary of China. And I don't need to say [because] all this is public knowledge, the way China and the United States look at each other,” Imran said.
“So, it creates a problem because what the United States is doing, as it formed this regional alliance called the Quad, which is US, India, and a couple of other countries. So, from that point of view, Pakistan thinks that it is very unfair for the US or the Western powers for countries like us to take sides,” he added.
“Why do we have to take sides?” Imran asked, emphatically. “We should have good relationship with everyone. And, it's not going to happen that if there's pressure put on Pakistan to change its relationship or downgrade relationship with China, it won't happen,” he said.
Elaborating further, Imran emphasised that the relationship between Pakistan and China were going deep. “It's not just the government, it's a people-to-people relationship,” he said. “No matter what pressure is put on us, [the bilateral relationship] is not going to change.”
Responding to another question as to where the Sino-Pak relations headed, the prime minister stressed that the people of China had a special place in the hearts of the people of Pakistan. In Pakistan, he added, people always had a special fondness for people of China.
“You only remember a friend who stands with you in your difficult times. In good times, everyone stands with you. But in your difficult, tough times, bad times, you remember those people who stood by you,” Imran told the interviewer.
“Whenever Pakistan was in trouble, politically or internationally, when we had conflicts with our neighbour, China always stood with us… everyone here remembers,” he said. “So, this relationship has only gotten stronger.”
Commenting on the future of the bilateral relations, Prime Minister Imran mentioned the benefits of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of the President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
“Number one is trade. The CPEC is right in front of you… It's the biggest thing happening in Pakistan. For us, this is where we think our economic future is moving towards. So, this is a big economic future in Pakistan,” he said.
“And then there's a political relationship. And political relationship has got stronger. Because whatever happens in every international forum, Pakistan and China stand together,” the prime minister told the CGTN.
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