In a recent press conference, Federal Minister for Development and Planning Ahsan Iqbal addressed ongoing rumors about Pakistan-China relations. He asserted that the opposing political party’s claims that China has lowered its relationship level with Pakistan are not only unfounded but also harmful to national interests. According to Iqbal, such behavior is undemocratic and counterproductive, equating to playing with the state’s interests, a move that neither the government nor the nation will tolerate.

Iqbal emphasized that India should not mislead the international community regarding the Pakistan-China joint statement on the Kashmir issue. Jammu and Kashmir, he pointed out, is an internationally recognized disputed territory that has been on the United Nations Security Council’s agenda for seven decades.

It is, therefore, unacceptable for anyone to question the steadfast friendship between Pakistan and China or their aligned stance on major projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the situation in Occupied Kashmir.

The roots of Pakistan-China friendship trace back to 1949, two years after Pakistan’s establishment, with Pakistan being one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China. The relationship solidified during the 1962 Sino-Indian War when Pakistan supported China, enhancing its prestige in Chinese eyes. This friendship deepened further during the 1965 Indo-Pak War when China supported Pakistan, showcasing true camaraderie. Again, in 1971, during another critical period for Pakistan, China demonstrated its unwavering support, further cementing the bond between the two nations.

Over the past 75 years, regardless of the various governments and political dynamics within Pakistan, one constant has been the unshakeable friendship between Pakistan and China, often described as “higher than the Himalayas.” This sentiment is shared across political spectrums and by the general populace. The relationship is not only strategic but also deeply rooted in mutual respect and cooperation, transcending changes in political leadership and regional dynamics.

A significant milestone in this enduring relationship came in 2013 with the launch of the historic CPEC project, aimed at regional development. This mega-project includes energy initiatives, the Sendak copper-gold project, Gwadar Port, a double-track railway from Karachi to Peshawar, and an extensive road network.

The project is divided into three phases: the first phase was set for completion by 2020, the middle phase by 2025, and the final phase by 2030. To date, 27 projects worth $19 billion have been completed, while 63 projects worth $35 billion remain pending.

However, the last six years have seen a significant slowdown in the CPEC project, which was originally slated to have its second phase completed by 2025. This slowdown can be attributed to various factors, including political instability within Pakistan and external pressures. The recent visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his team to China was a crucial step towards reviving this critical initiative. Both governments are now working diligently to recover from the setbacks of the past six years, with a focus on agricultural and industrial revolutions, increased trade links, and revolutionary developments in communications—essential measures in the face of Pakistan’s rapidly deteriorating economic situation.

The strategic partnership between Pakistan and China has always been a cornerstone of both nations’ foreign policies. This partnership has seen various facets, from defense cooperation to economic collaboration, and has been a stabilizing factor in the region. The CPEC project, in particular, symbolizes the depth and breadth of this relationship, aiming to transform Pakistan’s infrastructure and boost its economy. The benefits of CPEC are envisioned to extend beyond economic gains, fostering closer people-to-people ties and cultural exchanges.

In light of the recent propaganda, it is imperative for the political parties in Pakistan to rise above partisan politics and prioritize national interests. The continuation of the Pakistan-China friendship is not just a political necessity but a strategic imperative. Political parties must transcend all kinds of differences and promote mutual cooperation as a national cause.

This united front is essential to maintain the historic and strategic partnership that has been a cornerstone of both nations’ foreign policies.

Moreover, it is crucial to recognize the external forces at play. India, by misleading the international community, aims to drive a wedge between Pakistan and China. This tactic is not new but has gained momentum in recent times. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the Pakistani leadership and its people to counter such narratives with facts and a united stance. The international community should also be reminded of the long-standing and legitimate claims of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who have been awaiting justice for seven decades.

Ultimately, the baseless propaganda suggesting a rift in Pakistan-China relations is not only inaccurate but detrimental to national interests. The unyielding friendship between Pakistan and China remains as robust as ever, underscored by decades of mutual support and strategic cooperation. Political parties in Pakistan must rise above partisan politics to ensure the continuity and strengthening of this vital alliance. The strategic, economic, and cultural ties between Pakistan and China are too significant to be undermined by unfounded claims. As both nations look forward to the future, their partnership will continue to play a pivotal role in the region’s stability and prosperity.

 

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