Pakistani Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque. Photo: Courtesy of the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing

Exclusive full interview with Pakistani ambassador: China-Pakistan relations matter regardless of leadership change

The rock-solid friendship between China and Pakistan is tried and timeless, and there is complete national consensus in Pakistan on the significance and importance of this relationship, regardless of any change in government or leadership, a said the Pakistani ambassador to China on Monday. after the election of Shahbaz Sharif as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan in April.

Ambassador Moin ul Haque told the Global Times in an exclusive interview that as an old friend of China, Prime Minister Sharif looks forward to strengthening cooperation with China regarding China-China Economic Corridor projects. Pakistan (CPEC), Pakistan’s economic recovery amid the COVID -19 pandemic, counter-terrorism and economic development in Afghanistan.

“Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif is an old friend of China. As Pakistan’s leading politician, he has done valuable service in strengthening the friendship between Pakistan and China. He loves rapid development and progress. economy of China and has worked closely with the Chinese government to carry out many CPEC projects,” the envoy said.

Haque said Sharif is well known for his firm commitment to the timely completion of CPEC projects. During his last tenure as Chief Minister of Punjab, he not only provided political support but also closely monitored and expedited the implementation of all infrastructure and power projects in Punjab.

Regarding the CPEC projects that the new Pakistani government would prioritize, the Ambassador said that “apart from the completion of important Phase I projects, including Main Line I and Key Power Plants, the rapid operationalization of special economic zones to further boost our industrial production and high-quality development through enhanced cooperation in information and communication technology, science and technology, and agriculture would remain the government’s priority .

“We will also continue to make rapid progress in the development of Gwadar Port and Free Trade Zone to promote regional connectivity and economic integration,” he added.

Some media said Pakistan’s new government was facing economic challenges. In this regard, the Ambassador said that in addition to the economic difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukrainian crisis has further accentuated economic problems, especially of developing countries, with the disruption of supply chains and soaring commodity prices. Pakistan has also been affected and is facing economic and financial pressure.

“As Pakistan’s largest trading partner and major source of foreign direct investment, China is central to Pakistan’s economic recovery and long-term development agenda,” Haque said.

“We hope that investments from Chinese state-owned enterprises and private enterprises will promote Pakistan’s economic growth and create job opportunities. As a leading agrarian country, Pakistan is looking forward to expanding the export of its agri-food products to China.

Asked how Pakistan can protect itself from terrorism and prevent any threat against CPEC, Haque said Pakistan is aware of the threats to its security and development projects like CPEC. “Our valiant law enforcement agencies and armed forces remain vigilant to counter all nefarious designs of our adversaries against CPEC. Pakistan has established an elaborate security mechanism to ensure the safety and security of all CPEC projects and staff.”

“I am confident that Pakistan and China, through their coordination, will thwart all designs aimed at our friendship and disrupt CPEC cooperation between our two sides,” he said, adding that “we greatly appreciate the recognition by China of Pakistan’s efforts to deal with this situation”. threat and to the peace and security of our region”.

Regarding China-Pakistan cooperation for the economic development of Afghanistan, Ambassador Haque stressed that “a peaceful, prosperous and stable Afghanistan is vital for the shared development of our region. Pakistan is ready to cooperate with China in this endeavor and we can jointly help Afghanistan achieve these goals.”

He gave an example of the third foreign ministers’ meeting on the Afghan issue among Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, which was held in Tunxi, east China’s Anhui province, on March 31, indicating that the meeting finalized a Tunxi initiative establishing a framework for the economic development and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

“The Tunxi Initiative is an important step that highlights the efforts made by neighboring countries in the areas of humanitarian assistance, connectivity, economic reconstruction, agriculture and the social sector,” said Haque.

“Pakistan, China and Afghanistan have also expressed interest in extending CPEC to Afghanistan. This would pave the way for Afghanistan’s infrastructure development as well as its connectivity and integration with the region,” he added.