Economic corridor on top of agenda for Pakistan foreign minister’s Beijing visit

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaking at China Institute for International Strategic Studies (CIISS) in Beijing on Monday. (Photo credit: PID)
Updated 18 March 2019

Economic corridor on top of agenda for Pakistan foreign minister’s Beijing visit

  • Pakistani foreign office denies FM Qureshi will seek additional financial assistance from China during three-day talks
  • Analysts say Pakistan will take China into confidence about initiating action against banned groups and their leaders

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Office said on Monday Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi would hold strategic talks during his three-day visit to China and discuss enhancing projects under the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) of infrastructure and energy projects.

Though China is Pakistan’s closest ally, the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has sought to re-configure the two countries’ signature CPEC deal to put greater emphasis on social development rather than purely on energy and infrastructure projects.

Qureshi arrived in Beijing on Monday for the first Pakistan-China foreign ministers’ strategic dialogue amid persisting tensions with Pakistan’s nuclear-armed neighbor India.

“China is our all-weather friend and we want to continue the process of strategic dialogue to further strengthen our bilateral relationship,” Dr. Mohammad Faisal, the spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Office (FO), told Arab News on Monday. “Regional situation and cooperation at multilateral forums will also come under discussion, besides reinforcing efforts to deepen economic engagement under the CPEC.”

Faisal denied that Qureshi would seek economic assistance from China during the visit.

“(The subject of) economic assistance doesn’t come under the purview of strategic dialogue. Nothing like cash assistance is going to be discussed,” the spokesman said.

Last year, Pakistan received $6 billion and $3 billion loan packages from Saudi Arabia and the UAE respectively, to help cash-starved Pakistan bridge a yawning current account deficit and shore up foreign reserves. Pakistan and UAE were in talks for an additional $3 billion oil supply on deferred payments but reports now suggest the Emirates has declined to extend the facility.

Qureshi is scheduled to call on the Chinese leadership during his visit and address the Political Parties Forum on the CPEC, according to a statement issued by the FO on Monday.

He will also participate in the ruling parties’ dialogue between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Communist Party of China (CPC), the statement read. 

On Monday, Qureshi spoke at the China Institute for International Strategic Studies (CIISS) in Beijing where he reiterated that Pakistan and China are not only strong friends, but their relations are based on strategic partnership.

Pakistan army denies reports of joint border patrols with Iran

Updated 09 December 2019

Pakistan army denies reports of joint border patrols with Iran

  • Patrolling operations on respective sides are conducted by respective forces, military spokesman says
  • Last month, army chief visited Tehran for security talks

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army spokesperson on Monday rejected media reports suggesting that Pakistani and Iranian security forces conducted joint border patrolling.
“News published by Dawn today ('Pak-Iran Forces jointly conduct border patrolling') is factually incorrect,” Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, said in a tweet.
He added that “there is no joint patrolling anywhere on Pakistani borders” as “patrolling operations if required are always on respective sides by respective forces through coordination.”

The English-language daily reported earlier on the day that Pakistan and Iran had conducted another joint patrol on the border near Taftan town in Chagai district, Balochistan.
Soon after Ghafoor's comment, Dawn's editor Zaffar Abbas clarified that “the confusion was caused by the official news agency APP, as the picture caption said ‘joint patrolling.’ Radio Pak also tweeted the same. But we will be carrying out correction in light of your statement.”

Border security has long been a major cause of distrust in Pakistan-Iran relations. 
In April, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that the two countries would form a joint quick-reaction force to combat militant activity on their shared border, following a deadly attack on Pakistani security personnel on the coastal highway in southwestern Balochistan, where 14 soldiers lost their lives.
On Nov. 18, Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Tehran for security talks with Iran's political leadership and military leadership.
In May this year, Pakistan began the fencing of certain areas along the 950-kilometer border it shares with Iran.