ISLAMABAD: President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping departed from Pakistan after a historic two-day visit to the country’s capital.
The Chinese delegation was seen off by high-ranking government and military officials, including President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif.
In a historic address to the Joint Session of Parliament earlier today, President Jinping hailed Pakistan and China’s long-standing ties, saying Islamabad stood by Beijing at a time when it stood isolated on the world stage.
Jinping began his address by extending warm greetings and best wishes to the “brotherly people of Pakistan” on behalf of the 1.3 billion people of China. “Pakistan and China’s struggles have brought their hearts and minds together,” he said, as lawmakers applauded.
He said Beijing and Islamabad have been of tremendous support to one another, saying both countries have stood by each other in times of need. He also referred to the assistance offered by the two countries to one another in the events of natural disasters.
“Pakistan is the first foreign country that I visit this year and [it is my] first visit to your country, but Pakistan is not at all unfamiliar to me,” he said.
“It has made tremendous efforts and endured enormous sacrifice.”
He also lauded Islamabad’s anti-terror efforts, saying Pakistan had shown great character and courage in the face of adversity. “Pakistan has stood on the frontline in the international fight against terrorism,” said Jinping. He also announced that his country will provide assistance for the development and reconstruction of federally administered tribal areas (Fata).
President Jinping said he and his colleagues have been overwhelmed with the warm welcome extended to them by Pakistan. “During my current visit, President Mamnoon Hussain, PM Sharif and I jointly agreed to elevate China-Pakistan relations to an all-weather strategic partnership,” he said.
He also announced that his country firmly supports Pakistan’s commitment to uphold its sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity, Radio Pakistan reported.
Discussing the history of Pakistan-China relations, the Chinese President said it is often termed as higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the ocean and sweeter than the honey by the Pakistani brothers while Chinese people refer to Pakistani people as good friends, good partners and good brothers.
He pointed out that Pakistan is one of the first countries which recognised China as a state and it was the first Islamic country to develop diplomatic relations with Beijing.
Xi Jinping said both countries should maintain strategic communication on regional and international issues. He said China supports Pakistan’s constructive role in Afghanistan.
He said both the countries share common threats and they should stick together to confront them. He said China will enhance Pakistan’s capability in fighting terrorism and meeting non-traditional threats.
Jinping arrived at the Parliament House on Tuesday where he addressed a joint session of the National Assembly (NA) and the Senate on the second and last day of his visit to Pakistan.
An address to parliamentarians has been a feature of all visits to the country by Chinese presidents and prime ministers and it was the fourth such event. However, Mr Xi was the first Chinese president to address a joint sitting of parliament.
Regarded as a historic visit, Jinping’s trip to Pakistan is being viewed as one of game-changing proportions with the region’s developing geo-strategic landscape. It comes at a time when Tehran and the west have successfully managed a deal over Iran’s nuclear programme and as Islamabad treads a tricky terrain over its position on the conflict in Yemen.
Ties with New Delhi have not been able to overcome the snags that developed in recent few months and relations with the United States have been relatively lukewarm.
Pakistan’s highest civil award for Chinese President
President Mamnoon Hussain hosted a luncheon in honour of the Chinese President Xi Jinping which was also attended by senior military and civil leadership.
During the investiture ceremony, President Mamnoon Hussain conferred upon President Jinping Pakistan’s highest civil award, the Nishan -e- Pakistan.
This is the year of Pak-China friendship: PM Nawaz
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his gratitude to the Chinese president and his delegation for their visit to Pakistan.
“You are not just a friend from afar, but one who is so close to our heart,” he said.
The premier acknowledge Mr Jinping’s strong association with Pakistan. “We are friends forever. We are close friends, dear brothers and trusted partners,” he said.
He said all political parties of Pakistan have a united stance that Pakistan should have a robust bond with China.
The prime minister reiterated his stance on Pakistan’s fight against terrorism. “Our joint efforts against terrorism have succeeded so far but we need to intensify our efforts,” he said.
He also appreciated China’s solidarity with Pakistan in “our quest for peace and stability in South Asia”.
Talking about the mega-project of Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, “It is a catalytic project that will help us combine the geo-economic streams of our countries.”
“The corridor symbolises our commitment to create win-win partnerships which threaten none and benefit all,” he further said.
The premier said young entrepreneurs, academics, media persons, teachers, students and professionals from both countries will sustain their friendship and make it even more productive.
After the joint session concluded, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Xi Jinping departed for the Presidency in a horse-drawn carriage where President Mamnoon Hussain is to host a luncheon in Mr Jinping’s honour.
Soon after his arrival, Mr Jinping was taken to the Chamber of NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq where the Chinese and Pakistani delegations discussed issues of mutual concern.
Speaker NA Ayaz Sadiq welcomed the Chinese delegation and appreciated China’s support in Pakistan’s fight against terrorism.
The Chinese president said Pakistan and China’s friendship is transforming into a strategic partnership for the sake of mutual benefit.
NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq officially thanked the Chinese president and his delegation for visiting Pakistan and their commitment for the prosperity of Pakistan’s economy. He referred to President Jinping’s visit as “a brother’s homecoming”.
In light of today’s joint session, galleries of the House have been divided into nine sections.
Lawmakers, senior government officials and Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif are present in the Parliament House for the occasion.
Inauguration of solar energy project for Parliament
Prior to addressing the joint session, Jinping inaugurated the Solar Power Generation System (SPGS), a 1.2MW project for providing electricity to the Parliament building through solar
energy as a present from the Chinese government to Pakistan.
After the completion of the project the Pakistani parliament will be the only parliament building in the world to go green.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Pakistan on Monday to launch projects worth $46 billion, a figure that would far exceed US spending in Pakistan and underscores China’s economic ambitions in Asia and beyond.
Xi oversaw agreements on pipelines, power plants and other projects as part of a massive $46 billion joint development programmme that Beijing hopes will stabilise its longtime ally’s economy and extend China’s influence in western Asia. Pakistan hopes that the investment plan will end a chronic energy crisis and transform it into a regional economic hub.
Published in DAWN on April 21, 2015.