Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan
The just concluded visit to Pakistan by President of People's Republic of China His Excellency Xi Jinping has surely been instrumental to exponential expansion in the bilateral relations between the two countries and elevated them to a new level of abiding strategic cooperation that holds the promise of not only serving the geo-political, economic and security interests of both of them but also the South Asian region as well as Central Asia.
We in Pakistan feel proud of aligning ourselves with the new Chinese vision for regional connectivity and shared economic prosperity purported to be realized through revival of the old silk route and the building of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). These are epoch making initiatives dictated by the phenomenal economic progress of China and changing regional and global realities fraught with throwing open infinite opportunities to exploit the hitherto untapped resources for shared economic gains. The completion of the projects under the umbrella of CPEC will have a revolutionary impact on the economic profile of Pakistan and go a long way in changing the lives of people belonging to all the four provinces, as rightly noted and pointed out by Xi during his visit to Pakistan. The CPEC will turn Pakistan into an economic hub for the region with all the accompanying benefits on perennial basis. China would also undoubtedly benefit from this undertaking in many ways and be in a much better position to expand its commercial interests on the global level by securing shortest possible access route to the Arabian Sea as well as to import oil for its industrial machine at a much lesser cost and time. It would indeed be a win-win situation for both China and Pakistan and the countries of the region. Pakistan is a naturally endowed country. Its geo-strategic location connecting three main sub-regions of Asia provides it with a unique advantage. We feel proud that this unique factor would help our friend like China in furthering its economic and strategic objectives.
Pakistan currently is engaged in a decisive war against terrorism that poses great threat to peace, security and tranquility in the region affecting almost all the regional countries in varying degrees. Pakistan being a frontline state in the war against terrorism and having suffered colossal economic losses in this battle and having endured its negative impact on the security situation in the country, understands and appreciates Chinese concerns about the security challenges in its Xinjiang [Uygur Autonomous Region] as a consequence of the terrorist activities of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). We stand by China in combating the ETIM threat. The security interests of Pakistan and China are interconnected and we appreciate the endorsement and support expressed by the Chinese President in regards to our efforts in tackling terrorism and the resolve to work together to confront this common challenge both at the bilateral level and through cooperative efforts of the countries of the region.
Pakistan firmly believes in peace for development and my government has been striving hard to pursue this objective and I am glad that this initiative has tremendously helped in improving relations with Afghanistan and an ambience of cooperative relations based on mutual trust has been evolved, especially in regards to combating terrorism. Pakistan supports the process of Afghan-led and Afghan owned process of reconciliation in Afghanistan and believes that peace in Afghanistan is a key to surmounting security challenges of the region as well as unleashing the economic potential for shared economic prosperity. We are of the firm view that the Chinese interest and participation in rebuilding infrastructure in Afghanistan and support for reconciliation process in that country would greatly enhance the chances of success in our common goals of peace and development.
The understanding reached between the two countries during Xi's visit to Pakistan for further strengthening economic and defense ties between the two countries and the resolve to maintain continued dialogue and consultations on further reinforcing the strategic cooperation, is a source of great encouragement for Pakistan. Equally inspiring for us is the Chinese endorsement of our quest in regards to the mainstreaming our efforts for the cause of non-proliferation, engagement with Nuclear Suppliers Group and the bid for full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Our unanimous views on activating and strengthening of regional and international mechanisms for peace and security, reforms in the UN in recognition of the interests of the member countries and the establishment of a judicious world order, provide a nourishing ingredient to tree of friendship between the two countries. The stability and economic prosperity of Asia, stretching from the plains of the Caucasus to the shores of the Arabian Sea and the Pacific, to a great extent is dependent on strong and vibrant ties between Pakistan and China.
President Xi has inspired not only the people of China, but also the developing world, with his visionary enunciation of the Chinese Dream of National Rejuvenation. We share this vision of peace and prosperity for the region and welcome his emphasis on engaging with China's neighboring countries in a spirit of win-win cooperation. This is why we are fully supportive of the Chinese President's concept of the New Asian Security. Pakistan feels that the Chinese initiative to set up Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is really a positive step towards realization of that concept. Infrastructure is the most important ingredient in kick starting the process of sustained economic growth in any country. Most of the Asian countries do not have the basic infrastructure to further their economic ambitions and they also lack the necessary resources to develop it. AIIB would greatly contribute to making available resources for infrastructure development on less stringent conditions than the other international lending institutions. It would encourage a healthy competition among the lending financial institutions and the borrowing countries would be in a better bargaining position to secure the required loans. Pakistan views this effort on part of China as an important step towards the creation of regional linkages, economic interdependence and eventually economic integration of the Asian countries which could prove a harbinger for peace in the entire continent.
Relations with China are the corner stone of Pakistan's foreign policy. They have withstood the vicissitudes of time and have continued to maintain an upward graph since their inception in 1951. China has contributed in a big way to nudging economic progress in Pakistan, rendered invaluable support and assistance to her to enhance its defence capabilities and extended unqualified support on issues of concern to her. Pakistan has also been instrumental to ending China's isolation, rapprochement with the U.S. and facilitating its permanent seat in the UN Security Council. It has been an ardent supporter of the one-China policy. The ties between the two countries are beyond the realm of normal diplomatic ties. The hall mark of the bonds between the two countries is that it is a people-to-people bonhomie; a relationship of hearts and minds. The characterization of Pakistan as Iron Friend by Xi says it all. The feeling is mutual.
Long live Pakistan-China Friendship.