ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday held a meeting with the Chinese chargé d’affaires in Islamabad amid efforts made by his administration to secure financing assurances from friendly nations ahead of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board meeting to discuss a $3 billion stand-by arrangement for his country.
Faced with dwindling foreign exchange reserves and rapidly depreciating currency, Pakistan has tried to stabilize its economy by seeking financial assistance from strategic partners to satisfy a major condition imposed by the international lender for the release of a $1.1 billion tranche under an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) signed in 2019.
The country’s finance minister Ishaq Dar announced earlier in the day Saudi Arabia had deposited $2 billion in Pakistan's central bank. China has also rolled over a $2 billion loan in recent months while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has pledged $1 billion to shore up Pakistan’s forex reserves.
According to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, Sharif felicitated the Communist Party of China on its 102nd anniversary during the meeting with the Chinese diplomat, Pang Chunxue, noting that the two countries had “always stood together in difficult times” and extended “unflinching support to each other.”
“Recalling his substantive interactions with President Xi Jinping and more recently with Premier Li Qiang, the Prime Minister appreciated strong personal commitment of the Chinese leadership for strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries,” the statement added.
“Noting the upward trajectory in Pakistan-China ties and deepening economic and financial relationship, the Prime Minister thanked China for its support for Pakistan’s economic stability and expressed his firm commitment to further deepen development cooperation between the two countries under the rubric of Global Development Initiative and CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor].”
The Chinese official also mentioned the strategic partnership between the two states during the meeting, pointing out that her country accorded a special place to Pakistan in its neighborhood diplomacy.
She maintained that China regarded Pakistan as an important economic partner and would continue efforts to promote its socio-economic development and financial stability.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s planning minister Ahsan Iqbal co-chaired the 12th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting with a senior Chinese official in Beijing to review the progress made under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor program.
According to the Associated Press of Pakistan, he described CPEC as “the topmost national priority” while highlighting there was massive potential to further expand and develop bilateral ties between the two countries in agriculture, industry, technology, and mining sectors.