Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Wednesday that Chinese President Xi Jinping would be travelling to Pakistan on a state visit in September.
He said the visit was of immense importance and said the people of Pakistan were ready to accord the premier a befitting welcome. Sharif was speaking to a PTV representative after attending the third meeting of the Pak-China Joint Coordination Committee in Beijing. He said Jinping would visit developmental projects underway in Pakistan during his visit. Sharif said Jinping would also lay the foundation stones for several projects underway in Pakistan with Chinese cooperation. The chief minister said the people of Pakistan would accord a warm welcome to the Chinese president across the political spectrum. Sharif said the Azadi March and the Inqilab March had impeded progress on developmental projects in the region and had delayed the completion of the Metro Bus Project in Islamabad. He said work on the Orange Line Metro Train Project was being completed according to schedule. Sharif said contracts for the project would be awarded soon.
Separately, the chief minister said investments made in Pakistan by China exemplified Chinese confidence in the country. Sharif was speaking after meeting Chinese government officials and industrialists. He said China had been a longstanding friend of Pakistan. Sharif said several Chinese corporations and investors had made investments in Pakistan. The chief minister said the creation of an economic corridor with Chinese assistance would prove a boon for Pakistan’s economy. He said it would increase industrial and trading activity. Sharif said this would reduce unemployment and alleviate poverty in the country. The chief minister said work on the economic corridor was being carried out urgently. Sharif said his government had fostered an investor-friendly atmosphere in Pakistan especially for Chinese investors. He said Chinese investors had shown interest in pursuing projects in energy, infrastructure and healthcare in Pakistan.
Earlier, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal said the construction of the Khunjrab-Gwadar Motorway would increase regional economic cooperation. Iqbal was addressing the third meeting of the Pak-China Joint Coordination Committee in Beijing. Iqbal said a new chapter in the history of Pak-China relations had been opened under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The minister also briefed participants about the progress made on the creation of the economic corridor.
Addressing the meeting, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch said work at the Gwadar Port was being expedited. He said land had been acquired for the project. Baloch said the law and order situation is Balochistan had improved over the past year. He said the government would herald an era of peace and prosperity in Balochistan.
Separately, the Chinese government on Wednesday expressed its willingness to revitalise the Pak-China Friendship Association. Sha Zukang, a Chinese diplomat, met Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif regarding the matter. The chief minister welcomed the proposal and said reinvigorating the association was the need of the hour. Sharif said the government would leave no stone unturned to revitalise the association.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2014.