The first China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue was held in Beijing on March 19. What’s the significance of this dialogue? What are the new developments of China Pakistan Economic Corridor? H.E. Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of Pakistan answered these questions in an exclusive interview with the Global Times (China) on Tuesday.
GT: Can you introduce the agenda of this China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue?
Qureshi: I am here to co-chair with State Councillor Wang Yi the inaugural meeting of China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue following a decision of the political leadership of both countries in November 2018 to elevate the dialogue to Foreign Minister’s level. I held in-depth discussions with State Councillor on the whole spectrum of our bilateral relations including high level exchanges, future development and direction of CPEC, cooperation in the fields of trade, defence and security, enhancing people-to-people exchanges and regional and international issues of mutual interest.
This platform will serve as an opportunity to further consolidate our time-tested All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership and reiterate our commitment to building closer China-Pakistan community of Shared Future in the New Era.
GT: Given the current regional situation, what are the highlights of this strategic dialogue?
Qureshi: Recent developments in South Asia are well known to the world. World is also aware how the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has acted to deescalate the situation. Pakistan has convincingly manifested its quest for peace in the region by offering dialogue to India and investigation of the Pulwama incident if credible evidence was made available.
Afghanistan is another area where Pakistan and China hold common views. Both countries are committed to peace and development in Afghanistan and in Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process.
The Strategic Dialogue with China not only reinforces our close friendly ties but also allows both sides to evaluate the regional situation and the steps which can be taken to improve it.
GT: You’ve been quoted by Pakistani media recently saying the CPEC contract has gone on to the next phase. Can you introduce the new developments of the CPEC?
Qureshi: Philosophy of PTI and our government is people-oriented and people-centric. As reflected in the Pakistan-China joint statement issued in November 2018, both the countries agreed to focus on socio-economic development, job creation, improving people’s livelihood, poverty alleviation, industrialization, development of industrial parks and agriculture- that is Phase-II of CPEC with the premise to build on the achievements of Phase-I.
GT: Media reported that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to visit China in April to attend the Belt and RoadForum for International Cooperation. Can you introduce progress of the arrangement?
Qureshi: At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Imran Khan will attend the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April 2019. He is expected to hold meetings with Chinese leadership on the side-lines of the Forum. More details will be released in due course.
GT: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman pledged US$20 billion investment in Pakistan during his recent visit. How will this investment deal collaborate with China-backed CPEC projects?
Qureshi: Pakistan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are brotherly countries and old friends. Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman have carved a new vision for future development of bilateral relations. “Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030” to become an investment powerhouse and global hub connecting three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa fits neatly with Pakistan’s own vision of a regional trading hub and connectivity corridor.
President Xi Jinping’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative has drawn attention of the world and countries along the Belt and Road are seeking means of collaborative and integrated economic development.
CPEC is the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative. It is primarily a bilateral project between Pakistan and China. CPEC will bring economic dividends to the region. We are open to project-based participation of third countries including Saudi Arabia in the development of CPEC.
GT: Pakistan’s relations with India have been hit recently by the Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir. What’s your view on China’s role in de-escalating tensions between Pakistan and India?
Qureshi: China is a voice of reason and wisdom in our region. We value and appreciate China’s support and for its call to exercise restraint and upholding sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. We welcome the Chinese efforts and its good offices to stabilize the situation in our region.
GT: What is your expectation for an ideal Pakistan-India relationship? What will Pakistan do to achieve it?
Qureshi: Since assumption of office in August 2018, Prime Minister of Pakistan has made several peace overtures to India including the Kartarpur Corridor and release of Indian pilot. We hope that his calls for peace and dialogue will be reciprocated and both sides will be able to settle all outstanding issues through dialogue and peaceful means.
GT: The development of South Asian countries has been faced with many challenges including terrorism. How regional countries can overcome the obstacles and improve security cooperation?
Qureshi: Pakistan believes that terrorism is a global problem and requires concerted efforts of the international community to defeat it. Only through dialogue and constructive engagement, can we defeat this scourge throughout our region. It is therefore critical that instead of unwarranted criticism and rhetoric, the regional countries develop cooperative approaches to counter the scourge of terrorism. Pakistan is engaged bilaterally as well as multilaterally in developing such approaches.
Source: Global Times