ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Saturday while expressing his eagerness to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 during his upcoming visit to China, said that the time-tested ties between the two countries had grown strongly over a period of time.
During an interaction with the Chinese media, the prime minister said both countries had bonds of friendship spanning over a period of 70 years, further cemented with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
He said “There is a feeling in Pakistan that China always stood with us in times of need and supported us during difficult times. Similarly, Pakistan also always stood with China.”
The prime minister also referred to the construction of the Karakorum highway as a vital milestone in the chapter of Pakistan-China friendship. A number of Chinese died during its construction, he added.
To a query, he said that the most impressive thing about China as acknowledged by the entire world was its success in taking 700 million people out of poverty during the last thirty or forty years, adding such huge achievement had never happened before in the human history.
He said it was such a feast that had impressed the world. “It is this fact which also impressed me as it coincides with my objective of steering my people out of poverty,’ he added.
The prime minister responding to another question maintained that they would like to emulate the steps taken by China to alleviate poverty. “We want to emulate the Chinese model of inclusive growth. The Chinese economy growth witnessed the prosperity of all Chinese people,” he maintained.
The prime minister said such inclusive growth excluded the bridge between the rich and the poor. China had been a model for all those countries that wanted an inclusive growth, he added.
Such a growth, he said, also contributed to wealth creation. China remained focused on the economy and when it attained growth, its fruits trickled down to all strata of society.
About West’s so-called criticism of China over the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the prime minister said that Pakistan ambassador to China had visited the area and informed that such allegations were not true.
The prime minister said on the other hand, the West did not talk about the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) where the worst human rights violations had been committed by the Indian forces.
“There is selective silence over Kashmir,” he said, adding the IIOJK had been turned into an open prison by 800,000 Indian troops, and such a silence on Kashmir was deafening which was based upon double standards.
To a query regarding Afghanistan, the prime minister said the country had suffered for the last forty years as the outer countries had turned its soil into a battleground.
After forty years, the war-weary country got a chance for peace, he said, adding, the international community did not think of the Afghans after the foreign troops’ withdrawal. They did not think how these impoverished people would survive.
The prime minister said when the Soviets left Afghanistan, there was utter chaos and casualties.
“Now everyone abandoned Afghanistan. I am talking about 40 million Afghan people currently facing worst humanitarian crises,” he said, warning that the same chaos and destruction could return to Afghan soil which occurred after Soviets’ pullout.
The prime minister called upon the international community to focus on the welfare of Afghan people immediately who needed help as soon as possible without its likes or dislikes for the Taliban.
About Pakistan’s focus on geo-economics strategy, the prime minister stressed upon strengthening of its economy which according to him had, unfortunately, never been paid attention in the past.
About the CPEC, the prime minister said its first phase was focused on connectivity and energy sector, but now they were developing special economic zones and agriculture, seeking Chinese cooperation to help improve their productivity, crops yield and livestock, citing the latest varieties of cotton crop as developed by China.
He also referred to the information and technology as another realm of cooperation as the future of the world hinged over the growth of IT sector. He opined that China had made strides in IT field.
Talking about another field of cooperation between the two countries, he said that they would be learning from the Chinese experience over building the megacities and coping the problems of air pollution and waste disposal etc.
He said Pakistan had been witnessing urbanization at the fastest pace and the Chinese model of urban development would be of great help.
Replying to a question, he said his upcoming visit to China in the next week would provide him an opportunity to witness the winter Olympics. Despite a sportsman for about 20 years, he had not witnessed such an event in the past. Being in politics, he did not get time for sports, he added.
The prime minister said that they would also teach the Chinese nation to play cricket, expressing hope that the Chinese would excel in this game as they had shown excellent performance in the Olympics games during the last few years.
He observed that Covid pandemic had devastated the world and badly affected the sporting events.
The prime minister said they would also promote skiing in Gilgit Baltistan and some other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which had ideal skiing locations, adding in this regard they would be looking towards Chinese cooperation and coordination as the country had performed well in the winter sports.
The prime minister also expressed best wishes on his behalf and on behalf of the people of Pakistan to the Chinese government and the people on the advent of new lunar year.