Pakistan PM dials China’s Xi Xinping, talks of strengthening economic ties; call for immediate aid to Afghanistan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday held telephonic talks with Chinese President Xi Xinping when both leaders agreed to “further strengthen bilateral economic and commercial ties”

Oct 26, 2021
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Pakistan PM dials China’s Xi Xinping

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday held telephonic talks with Chinese President Xi Xinping when both leaders agreed to “further strengthen bilateral economic and commercial ties”. The two leaders also jointly appealed to the international community to send immediate emergency aid to Afghanistan, which is grappling with severe food and medicine shortage.

Khan congratulated President Xi on the centenary of the Communist Party of China, the "unprecedented victory" in the Chinese people’s battle to eradicate absolute poverty, and appreciated China’s stellar development in four decades of reform and opening up. Khan also invited the Chinese leader to visit Pakistan. 

The two leaders stressed boosting economic ties, including fully realizing the potential offered by the Phase-II of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement to overcome economic headwinds, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).


"The Prime Minister lauded the successful, timely, and high-quality implementation of the CPEC projects, and welcomed Chinese investments in the CPEC Special Economic Zones,” read the statement. 

Significantly, Khan also raised the issue of the ML-1 railway project, for which China’s EXIM Bank had earlier denied a loan request worth $6 billion from Pakistan, citing the country’s ability to service debt. Khan stressed on early commencement of the work on the rail line. 

As part of the Phase-II of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the ML-1 project will see the modernization and complete overhauling of the 1872 km long rail track from Karachi to Peshwar. Khan said the project would help his country’s geo-economics vision for national and regional development. 

"The two leaders agreed to strengthen Pakistan-China cooperation in the relevant areas and to promote CPEC’s green development as a high-quality demonstration of the Belt and Road Initiative," the Foreign Office said.

Furthermore, the two leaders also talked about the situation in Afghanistan and stressed the need to provide immediate humanitarian and economic assistance to the Afghan people to alleviate their suffering, prevent instability and flight of people, as well as continued engagement for the rebuilding of the country.

Significantly, this call came at a time when there have been several allegations of delay and payment issues in CPEC projects. The Chinese contractor for the Dasu hydropower project in the country’s northwest province hasn’t yet resumed work after an attack killed nine Chinese nationals.

(SAM)