China stays out of ‘affairs of other states’

Iqbal clarifies Beijing maintains policy of non-interference in domestic affairs of other nations

Our Correspondent July 10, 2023
Federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal addressing a press conference in Islamabad to mark a decade of the signing of the CPEC on July 5, 2023. SCREENGRAB


Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday offered a clarification regarding his remarks that China issued a warning to Pakistan’s establishment ahead of the 2018 elections, saying that they were taken "out of context".

"China maintains a policy of non-interference in domestic affairs of other countries," said the minister before his departure for China to attend the Special Commemorative 12th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting of the CPEC to be held on Tuesday (today) in Beijing.

Iqbal is leading the Pakistani delegation to China, as the two countries celebrate a decade of achievements linked to the CPEC project.

"Some senior businessmen working on CPEC projects privately expressed the opinion that fair and free election was in the best interest of Pakistan," he revealed.

The minister also added that "by March/April 2018, it had become abundantly clear and was being openly discussed in international media that [the] establishment of that time did not want the PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) govt to return and was helping the PTI to come to power through interference in [the] electoral process."

Notably, Iqbal had claimed during an interview with a private news channel on Saturday that China had warned the powers that be against carrying out any new political experiment in Pakistan ahead of the 2018 general elections as Beijing feared that such an experiment would derail the CPEC project.

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 “China in a diplomatic manner had tried to convey [a message] to the then establishment to avoid any new experiment,” Iqbal, who belongs to the ruling PML-N, said in a reference to the rise of power of the PTI in the wake of 2018 polls.

He had also revealed that the then establishment had, however, assured Beijing that the new government would not create obstacles in the mega infrastructure and connectivity project.

The minister stressed the need for the continuation of policies for progress and development.

The PML-N leader accused the former ruling party of trying to make CPEC controversial, saying corruption allegations were levelled against the project and the Western media highlighted the controversial statements made by the PTI leaders.

“(Former minister and PTI leader) Murad Saeed levelled baseless corruption allegations against me in connection with CPEC and embarrassed a state-owned Chinese company.

“Perhaps, it happened for the first time that a state-owned Chinese company issued a condemnation statement against a minister it was working with,” he added.

He said that the PTI-led government ruined the sentiment developed by the PML-N by levelling baseless allegations, delaying the visa renewal of Chinese workers and through other tactics.

The PML-N led government has been blaming the former ruling party for pursuing policies that harmed mega projects and discouraged international investment.


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