ISLAMABAD: After months of speculation, Chinese President Xi Jinping will be arriving in Islamabad on Monday in a much anticipated visit aimed at cementing strategic and economic ties between the two all-weather friends.
Confirming the Chinese president’s visit to Pakistan, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam on Thursday said, “I can confirm the Chinese President’s visit. He will visit Pakistan on 20-21 April.”
During his stay, the Chinese leader will hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as well as senior military leadership. He will also address the joint session of parliament on Tuesday.
The trip, which is expected to result in agreements/MoUs on nearly $45 billion worth of Chinese investment projects in energy and infrastructure, is being billed as crucial visit in light of recent regional developments, particularly the growing partnership between United States and India.
Official sources privy to the Chinese president’s itinerary, said that he is expected to inaugurate a number of energy projects as well as the Pak-China Economic Corridor - a flagship project that seeks to bolster economic and trade ties between the two ‘iron brothers.’
Islamabad believes that China can help it kick-start economic growth and counter the rising conventional military build-up of neighbouring India, which has ambitions of becoming a regional power.
“The details of the visit are being finalized and we will share them with you in Islamabad and Beijing, simultaneously,” added Aslam. President Xi Jinping will be accompanied by a high-powered delegation.
The Chinese leader was originally scheduled to visit last year but his visit was put on hold due to political unrest in the country.
Pakistani Flag in Srinagar
Commenting on the recent uproar in India over the waving of Pakistani flags by Kashmiri leaders at a protest rally in Srinagar, the foreign office spokesperson said that the gesture manifested the ‘deep and lasting emotional bonds between the people of Occupied Kashmir and the people of Pakistan.’
“It is regrettable that India chose to use excessive force against peaceful demonstrators over exercising their right to peaceful assembly,” she added.
NYT editorial termed ‘biased’
The spokesperson reacted strongly to the recent editorial in the New York Times titled “Nuclear Fears in South Asia’ in which the leading American newspaper urged world powers to shift their focus to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal after the US-Iran nuclear deal.
“It is very disappointing that the newspaper has chosen to present a skewed and biased description of the South Asian security situation in its editorial. The editorial seems to be part of a familiar pattern of motivated and, at times ill informed, campaign which surfaces at regular intervals,” she added. The spokesperson pointed out that the editorial analysis missed out entirely on well-established facts about the introduction of nuclear weapons in South Asia.
“Pakistan was not the first to introduce nuclear weapons in South Asia. We were forced to develop nuclear capability purely for self defence,” she explained.
Highlighting the arms build-up by India, Aslam said that the newspaper had conveniently overlooked “India’s aggressive military posturing, particularly the continuous increase in defence budget to $40 billion at present, the ambitious cold start doctrine, pro-active operations, development of nuclear triad, introduction of nuclear weapons submarines in South Asia, development of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and canisterization of nuclear missiles,” she added.
She also strongly rebuffed the analysis that Pakistan had sunk deeper into chaos, threatened by economic collapse, weakening of political institutions and, most of all, a Taliban insurgency that aims to bring down the state.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2015.
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