Pak-China relations have entered economic dimensions: Shah Mahmood Qureshi

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Pak-China relations have entered economic dimensions: Shah Mahmood Qureshi

MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that all weather friendship between Pakistan

and China was expanding and it had now entered from strategic to a new economic dimension.

Talking to media persons here, the Foreign Minister said that speculations on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had died their own death following the issuance of joint statement that clearly showed Pak-China friendly relations were time-tested and would grow further with the passage of time.

Qureshi said that during Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to China they met the top Chinese leadership that focused on next phase of CPEC, defence cooperation, economy and enhancing Pakistani exports to China.

He expressed the hope that Pakistan's exports to China would be doubled within this fiscal year.

He said that the previous government had laid stress on infrastructure with regard to CPEC, but the incumbent government wished to move forward keeping in view the education, health, industry, skill development, agriculture and more investment for jobs creation.

He said that there was stability with regard to dollar pressure and situation was improving since the recent visits of the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia and China.

He said that Pakistan was also in talks with United Arab Emirates on improving economic relations and all the rumours and speculations with regard to economic crisis would die their own death.

He said, recent talks with senior US diplomat Alice Wells began with a positive note and focused on improving bilateral relations after a long time. Earlier, they just used to talk about Afghanistan and 'Do More' but recent talks acknowledged Pakistan's contribution for peace.

Qureshi said, Alice Wells appreciated Pakistan's cooperation and added that the support US wanted from Pakistan for Afghanistan reconciliation process was being extended and would continue in future.

He said that it was good development that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had formed an advisory council for Afghan reconciliation process and positive discussions took place on this front.

The Foreign Minister recalled that bilateral cooperation was also discussed during his talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the recent visit of Alice Wells was a continuation of that process. He said that US would cooperate in energy and other sectors and more US delegations would visit Pakistan shortly.

To a question about Aasia Bibi, he said that the Ministry of Interior was better placed to respond, however, according to his knowledge, Aasia Bibi was still in Pakistan.

He said that Supreme Court had decided the case and now a review petition had been filed and everybody should wait for its decision. He said that institutions and departments were bound to follow law and comply with the court orders.

When asked about Aafia Siddiqui's appeal, Qureshi said that Pakistan would extend help as per law to lessen her difficulties. He said, Aafia's sister had also contacted him and that he would meet her next week.

To another question, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Maulana Samiul Haq was a noted religious scholar and hoped that the ongoing investigation into his assassination would unmask the killers and bring them to justice.

Responding to a question, the Foreign Minister said that Pakistan was ready to hold talks with India but added it seemed India was in an elections mood and their political compulsions would hardly allow them to resume talks till April 2019, when their elections would be completed.

Qureshi said that national political consensus was necessary for creation of South Punjab as new province and the government was committed to keep all on board on this important matter. He said that no single party enjoyed two- thirds majority in the parliament, therefore, building consensus was necessary. He said that PPP leadership had already issued statements in support of new province and added that government would also consult PML-N.

He said that he had also talked to Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal on the issue and he had promised to give positive response.

About 100-day plan, he said the government would publish a report detailing what initiatives had been taken after 100 days and then next strategy would be devised and targets would be set.

APP