ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood Thursday said there is complete national consensus across the political spectrum in Pakistan on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) indispensability for Pakistan’s national development.
Speaking as the chief guest at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI), in an event in connection with launching of the China-Pakistan Study Centre’s second edited book titled, “Higher than Karakoram: Seven Decades of Pakistan-China Partnership,” the foreign secretary said that launching of CPEC in 2015 brought the relationship between Pakistan and China to new heights.
Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong also addressed the event as guest of honour.
As the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative, Mahmood stated that the CPEC is set to become a “High-Quality Demonstration Project” of BRI and accelerate economic integration and regional connectivity.
“There is complete national consensus across the political spectrum in Pakistan on CPEC’s indispensability for our national development,” the foreign secretary asserted.
After successful conclusion of its first phase, he added that the transformational CPEC project has entered the second phase, with vigorous focus on industrialisation, agriculture and socio-economic development.
“We hope that the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), being developed under CPEC, will rejuvenate Pakistan’s process of industrialization and further spur economic development,” he expressed optimism.
“Indeed, CPEC will serve as a key driver of our flourishing partnership in the 21st Century. Strategic vision on both sides will continue to nurture the relationship in the decades to come,” he added
Over the past seven decades, he said that Pakistan-China relations have grown from strength to strength, unaffected by the vicissitudes of time and changes in the regional and global environment.
“The relationship has matured into a time-tested “All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership.” We are indeed “Iron brothers”,” he added.
“China-Pakistan bilateral relations are rightly hailed as “taller than mountains, deeper than oceans, and sweeter than honey.” Pakistan-China relationship is, and will remain, the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy,” he asserted.
He said that Pakistan and China steadfastly support each other on the issues of their core interest. Pakistan adheres to “One-China policy” and supports China on issues such as Xinjiang, Hong Kong, South China Sea, Taiwan and Tibet, he said, adding that China has stood by Pakistan in supporting our key strategic, economic and developmental priorities as well as maintaining a principled position, China supports Pakistan on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, he referred to the cooperation between the two countries, adding that cooperation between the two countries on vaccine is progressing “very well”.
“We are deeply grateful to China for providing us COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines provided by China are playing an important role in saving precious lives and controlling the pandemic,” he said, adding that the National Institute of Health (NIH) is building a local vaccine manufacturing facility with China’s help.
He further stated that the two countries have established seven sister-province and 14 sister-city relationships, adding that a dozen more such arrangements are in the process and expected to be finalised as part of 70 years celebrations this year.
He added that seven Pakistan study centers, 11 Urdu language departments in various Chinese universities, and five Confucius Institutes in Pakistan are promoting cultural understanding between the two peoples.
In his remarks, Ambassador Rong stated that the relationship between China and Pakistan has set a model for other countries.
He underscored the importance of research in propagating the right narrative and also suggested to focus on more areas of common interests.
The Chinese envoy also congratulated the ISSI and the CPSC for launching the book at the important occasion, when China and Pakistan are celebrating the seven decades of diplomatic relations.
Ambassador (retd) Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, said that what makes the book unique is that it marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan.
With their expertise over their respective areas, he added that the authors have provided the readers with valuable information on the past, present and future trends in the multiple dimensions of bilateral ties between China and Pakistan.
While introducing the book, Dr Talat Shabbir, Director CPSC said that through the book, CPSC has brought to light the fact as to why our relationship is considered to be “Higher than Karakoram.”
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021