Pakistan Foreign Minister, ISI chief in China for strategic dialogue, allay Chinese apprehensions on security for CPEC

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is in Beijing to participate in the third China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue as the ties hit a bump following the death of nine Chinese workers working on a CPEC project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that is ruled by Prime Minister Imran Khan's PTI party

Jul 24, 2021
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China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is in Beijing to participate in the third China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue as the ties hit a bump following the death of nine Chinese workers working on a CPEC project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that is ruled by Prime Minister Imran Khan's PTI party. 

The two foreign ministers will exchange views on the situation in Afghanistan and other regional developments, Pakistani media said. 

“On the invitation of the State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will visit China from 23-24 July 2021,” the Foreign Office said while announcing the minister’s two-day visit to Beijing. Qureshi is being accompanied on the trip by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and other senior officials. ISI Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hamid is also in China for the meeting, signifying the importance of this dialogue to the country. 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, at a media briefing in Beijing, said the third bilateral Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue will “enhance strategic coordination on bilateral cooperation and international and regional issues of common concern”.

The wide-ranging talks, according to the Foreign Office, would cover cooperation in the high-quality development under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), defence and security cooperation, Covid-19 vaccines, counterterrorism and regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The meeting is taking place against the backdrop of July 14 "terrorist attack" on Chinese workers’ bus in Dasu in which 13 people, including nine Chinese workers, lost their lives. Qureshi and his delegation’s departure also coincided with the repatriation of the remains of the Chinese workers killed in the incident to China, Dawn said. 

The Dasu attack accentuated Beijing’s concerns about the security of Chinese installations, projects and personnel in Pakistan. Various Chinese officials in their statements after the Dasu incident underscored the importance their government attaches to the security of their citizens in the country and urged Pakistani authorities to bring to justice the perpetrators of the attack and prevent recurrence of such incidents.

Discussion on CPEC will be high on the agenda. “We will review progress on CPEC and see what has to be done next,” Qureshi said. China is investing over 60 billion dollars in CPEC projects in Pakistan and has a lot at stake in the security of its multiple projects. 

The 10th meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the top decision-making forum for the multi-billion-dollar collaborative undertaking, which was scheduled for July 16 was postponed in the aftermath of the Dasu incident.

Amid intensified efforts by Pakistan to get the work restarted on the Dasu hydropower project, Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain called on Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong in Islamabad Friday and discussed the matters relating to the construction of the dam, Dawn reported.

The bus carrying the Chinese and Pakistani workers to an under-construction tunnel site of the 4,300MW Dasu hydropower project fell into a ravine in the Upper Kohistan area after an explosion.
A team of the Chinese investigators had arrived in Pakistan soon after the incident and completed its initial task after visiting the construction site in the Kohistan area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where it interviewed a number of workers and other staff members of the project. The Chinese investigators had reportedly questioned both Pakistani and fellow countrymen during their visit to the Barseen camp.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid had at a news conference last week alleged that the Dasu incident might be an attempt to sabotage the projects being carried out in the country under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as it happened just two days before the scheduled CPEC Joint Coordination Committee’s meeting, which was postponed following the incident.

As a sequel to the incident, and in a bid to insulate the scores of visiting Chinese officials and workers coming to Pakistan, the minister inaugurated a special immigration counter for Chinese nationals at Islamabad airport. The counter has been set up by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for the fastest immigration of travelers from China, particularly those holding CPEC visas, Dawn said (SAM)

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