ISLAMABAD: Chinese President Xi Jinping was accorded a warm welcome by the Pakistani leadership on his arrival on a two-day state visit on Monday. A fleet of eight JF-17 Thunder jets escorted the special plane of the Chinese leader when it entered Pakistan’s airspace.
A red carpet and a 21-gun salute welcomed the Chinese president as he landed at the Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi, as a formation of JF-17s presented an impressive flypast.
President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his cabinet members and top Pakistani officials received the Chinese president, who was accompanied by China’s First Lady, his cabinet members, senior leaders of the Communist Party and leading businessmen. The chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and three services’ chiefs were also among those present at the reception.
As per tradition, two children clad in cultural dresses presented bouquets to the Chinese president and the First Lady. Schoolchildren holding Chinese and Pakistani flags greeted President Xi in Chinese language and young girls showered flower petals on the visiting dignitary.
National anthems of the two countries were played as the stationary guard of Pakistan Air Force and Presidential Bodyguards lined up across the red carpet and presented a guard of honour to the guest.
The Chinese president and his delegation were introduced to the Pakistani cabinet members.
Special arrangements were made from the airbase to the Prime Minister Secretariat by decorating the long route with Chinese flags, huge portraits of the Chinese president, posters and banners inscribed with slogans of ‘long live Pak-China friendship’.
The whole city of Islamabad has been adorned with the national flags of both countries. Special lights with blue and red colour have been put up along the Constitution Avenue from Serena Hotel to the Presidency.
The security of the Chinese president and his delegation has been entrusted with Pakistan Army’s 111th Infantry Brigade, popularly known as the Triple-1 Brigade. More than 3,000 police and paramilitary personnel were deployed on the route from the airport to the Pakistan Secretariat.
President Xi’s much awaited visit to Pakistan had been pending for long due to the uncertain political situation in Pakistan. The official visit to Pakistan is the first visit by a Chinese president after nine years.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2015.
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