Sharif-Xi Discusses Stretching CPEC To Afghanistan

Pakistan Prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Xi Jinping of China acknowledged on Wednesday that the CPEC’s extension to Afghanistan “would strengthen regional connectivity initiatives”.

CHENNAI | Updated: 02 November, 2022 5:17 pm IST
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping

Pakistan Prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Xi Jinping of China acknowledged on Wednesday that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC)’s extension to Afghanistan “would strengthen regional connectivity initiatives”.

Pakistan’s PM is on a two-day state visit to China amid nationwide political turmoil and an economic slowdown. The duo raised this issue in the bilateral meeting at the People’s Great Hall of China in Beijing while expressing their concerns over the Afghan crisis.

The multi-mega project worth $62 billion, CPEC covers a 3,000-km long route of infrastructure bracketing China’s northwest Xinjiang Uyghur and the Gwadar Port in Pakistan.

On Wednesday, the pair tabled a diverse range of issues in addition to CPEC, including defence, trade and investment, agriculture, health, education, green energy, science and technology, and disaster preparedness.

In the bilateral meeting, President Xi announced an additional assistance package of RMB 500 million for flood-affected Pakistan’s post-flood relief and rehabilitation drive. Considering the need for a mass-transit project in Karachi, the two sides agreed to finalise all formalities for the launch of the Karachi Circular Railway at the earliest possible date.

Paying tribute to President Xi’s leadership for China’s prosperity and his vision for strengthening the bilateral relationship, Prime Minister Sharif said, “Pakistan drew inspiration from China’s socio-economic development and national resolve for the country’s progress and prosperity.”

In Beijing, China and Pakistan have decided to make joint efforts for launching ML-1 as an early harvest project, under the CPEC project, a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan reads.

Sharif, during the tête-à-tête on Wednesday, raised the issue of India’s Kashmir. The two leaders expressed concerns over Afghanistan and acknowledged that “a peaceful and stable Afghanistan would promote regional security and economic development.”

PM Sharif congratulated President Xi on his re-election as General Secretary of the 20th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. In the bilateral meeting on Wednesday, President Xi has accepted PM Sharif’s invitation to visit Pakistan.

It was the maiden state visit of Prime Minister Sharif, who unseated PM Imran Khan in April. Amid a reeling economic crisis and sheer political turmoil in Pakistan, PM Sharif is visiting China with a high-level delegation, including federal ministers and special assistants, as well as the Sindh Chief Minister in his contingent, to revitalise the CPEC projects.

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