Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
At the height of confrontation in the geopolitics, where the West has been exercising all the practices of the cold-war era and coercing China, Russia, the Muslim world, etc., Pakistan has clarified its position.
President Dr. Arif Alvi has said that an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between China and Pakistan envisioned a prosperous region with the establishment of economic and trade linkages through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the One Belt, One Road initiative. During an interaction with the Chinese media, the president said Pakistan and China enjoyed excellent relations based on an all-weather strategic cooperative partnerships.
While dilating upon the long history of ties between the Iron Brothers, the president said both the countries had been cooperating in diverse fields through China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The leadership of both the countries had been consistently improving upon the historic relationship, he said, adding the ties were based upon people-to-people linkages.
President Alvi said both countries had faced testing times. The world is in flux, facing different challenges and issues like the illegal occupation of Kashmir (IIOJK) by India. He said Pakistan and China had been continuously talking about peace in the world and pushing for durable peace across the world. The president cited both countries’ efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
China and Pakistan had a long history of friendship and they were continuously improving upon these ties which had started during the 50s and tremendously grew up during the 60s, he added. China’s link with the world was established through Pakistan, he said. To a question, the president said that a new global order was emerging. On different issues, Pakistan and China think alike. In the face of these changes, the president stressed that any global changes should be based upon principles rather than hegemony.
The president further stressed that these changes should not be of any kind of interference in each other’s affairs. The last seventy years of ties between Pakistan and China had been a good example for the world to show how countries could be friendly and forged relations based upon principles and mutual understanding, he added.
About the CPEC, the president said it is a unique form of cooperation. CPEC completed projects that stood around worth $28 billion whereas another $24 billion projects were under completion. The president said the entire portfolio of CPEC projects was over $62 in the short term.
“I think the CPEC has a tremendous impact upon the economy of Pakistan,” he opined. Rejecting certain propaganda launched against CEPC, he said huge cooperation was going on between China and Pakistan. He said a very low mark-up over this investment reflected the mutual cooperation rather than exploitation as projected by those opposing the project.
The president further said that under CPEC, the initial projects were energy-based as Pakistan had been facing a serious shortage of energy, subsequently, in the second phase, there were huge areas of cooperation in food, health agriculture, and poverty alleviation. The president reiterated that through these multi-dimensional projects, people in Pakistan would find more job opportunities and would come out of poverty. He observed that poverty could be alleviated through the strengthening of health and education infrastructure over which Pakistan was fully focusing with different initiatives like the Ehsaas programme. To another query, he replied that China had adopted a zero-Covid policy but Pakistan handled it in a very different manner. The government in Pakistan opted for a partial lockdown as its economy could not sustain a complete lockdown.
There were a maximum of 6,800 covid cases in Pakistan during the months of June and July, he added. Highlighting the importance of Gwadar port, the president said fast progress was being achieved. It was one of the largest ports in the region close to the Gulf and would serve as a major deep-sea port.
Gwadar would be the shortest trade route for Afghanistan and to the Central Asian Republics (CARs), he said, adding the more linkages were established, the more progress and development would take place in the region and beyond. Gwadar port would ensure peace and development for the whole region, he expressed confidence. Regarding the cooperation in the IT sector, the president underlined that cyber security and human resources needed to be developed. He maintained that tomorrow’s world would not be based upon brick and mortar.
China and Pakistan required to be firewalled against hacking, the ability of the non-state actors to launch cyberattacks; for example, to affect their banking and financial institutions and utilities as everything was available on the internet, the president added. The president said that they would be looking forward to the Chinese cooperation in developing the chips and cited the development of the JF-17 Thunder, as a good example of cooperation between the two countries.
A set of democracy in any part of the world could not be transplanted in another, he observed. The president said that Chinese democracy had evolved very much as it had a unified approach to developing the country. “China has made efforts in improving on trade and taking 800 million people out of poverty which is not a small achievement,” he added. He said one belt and one road was a great example to the world to show how development for the decades ahead could be achieved.
To another question, the president felicitated the Chinese government for arranging the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics 2022. He opined that from the history of Greece, the world learned that games had been a source to bring nations closer, enhance cooperation and promote healthy competition through games.
It was a great achievement of the Chinese government to host such an event during the pandemic, he said, adding that Pakistan would also participate. The president observed that it was unsuitable if games were stymied with politics on false perceptions. The president also congratulated the Chinese Communist Party on the 100 years of its foundation.
He said that it continued to guide the world as an example of prosperity and through the way, it displayed unity and took people out of poverty. He stressed that other countries could learn from the people’s participation in the government and CCP being an institution for progress. About the role of Pakistan in the Afghan peace and stability, the president said that it had been at the forefront of these efforts to ensure that Afghanistan should not fall back into isolation and its finances and banking sector should not collapse.
He said Pakistan has brought the global focus back on Afghanistan. The Afghan people had faced miseries in the last three decades and it was important that the world must bring them into the mainstream, he emphasized. Regarding women’s education, the Afghan government had assured that it would continue, besides the Afghan soil would not be used for any terrorism, he added.
The president said Pakistan had hosted about four million Afghans on its soil for four decades and there was no political party in the country that had opposed the refugees unlike the Mediterranean, where the migrants had been left to drown. He said Pakistan had also successfully hosted the extraordinary meeting of the foreign ministers of OIC and with these efforts, it ensured to save Afghanistan from becoming a backburner. The president also wished tremendous progress, prosperity, and success to the Chinese government and its people at the herald of the Chinese New Year.
Pakistan has re-aligned its foreign policies in the emerging geopolitics and is determined to stand on its principle stance. China-Pakistan friendship is the cornerstone of its foreign policy and will stick to it, without harming relations with any other country.