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September 13, 2012

Pakistan drawing ever closer to China: PM Ashraf

September 13, 2012

TIANJIN (South China): While reminding the world that its close and historic ties with China are not a temporary phenomenon or a consequence of any development, Pakistan Wednesday said the country is drawing even closer to Beijing in the backdrop of a strain in ties with the United States since the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf sent out this message loud and clear in an exclusive programme of the World Economic Forum (WEF) here Wednesday afternoon. While responding to a query in a one-on-one session of the WEF, he successfully dispelled the impression that Pakistan’s proximity with China was directed against any other country.
The PM was speaking during a special session titled ‘An Insight, An idea with PM Raja Ashraf,’ moderated by China Central Television (CCTV) Director Rui Chengang, which attracted a large number of participants from different countries.
The prime minister emphatically stated that Pakistan’s relationship with China is time-tested and deeply rooted in history and has many dimensions. He called upon regional countries to adopt an Asia-centred approach and promoteintra-regional trade for the prosperity and development of their people. Regional countries needed to create a macro framework for their direct investments and make corridors for multi-sector investment, particularly in trade and energy, he said.
Prime Minister Raja said Pakistan was committed to a secure and prosperous region. Being located at the hub of South Asia, West Asia and Central, Asia Pakistan could act as an ‘anchor of peace and stability’ in the region. He stressed on the need for dialogue for resolving conflicts and disputes among regional countries which otherwise would hamper efforts to attain economic objectives. “No country can be an island unto itself. We are inter-dependent and should work together,” he said.
The prime minister said Pakistan earnestly sought friendly relations with all

regional countries including India, Afghanistan, Iran, China and the Central Asian states. On Afghanistan, the Prime Minister said Pakistan believed in its stability, which would ensure the region’s peace. He said Pakistan is making sincere efforts to improve bilateral ties with India by pursuing dialogue on all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir. With China, he said, Pakistan enjoys mutually beneficial relations, adding that China could play an important role in regional prosperity and Pakistan could learn from the Chinese experience. He reminded that if you ask any person about China in Pakistan, he or she spontaneously speaks about the great friendship that is deeper than oceans and higher than mountains. And this is an undeniable reality, PM Raja said.
He went on to say that the Pakistan-China friendship must not be perceived as a reaction to any situational change. “Pakistan is always ready to facilitate the international community in the war against terrorism and had made enormous sacrifices. However, no compromise would be made on our integrity and sovereignty,” the PM reiterated.
When asked about the impact of domestic political tensions on the national economy, the Prime Minister said Pakistan is passing through a democratic transition and it is effectively dealing with such challenges. He said having a sovereign Parliament, an independent judiciary and a free and vibrant media, the country was going to hold next general elections. He said Pakistan faced economic challenges during the global recession but proved economically resilient and had attained four percent growth rate this year. An Indian newsman asked Prime Minister Raja about punishing those responsible for the Mumbai attacks. The Prime Minister responded quickly by saying, “We are sending a judicial commission to India.”
Earlier former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had a meeting with Prime Minister Raja on the margins of the forum and discussed with him several subjects of mutual interest. He informed Prime Minister Raja that he had been tasked by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to help countries promote education in the context of Accelerated Millennium Development Goals (AMDGs).
The former British PM intends taking a delegation to Pakistan comprising academics and information technology experts. The delegation will also include representatives of international business houses and non-government organisations (NGOs). Technology experts would work for the improvement to expand education in Pakistan on a pro-bono basis, Brown added.
Prime Minister Raja complimented Brown for embarking on this noble task of spreading education around the world and termed this a great service to humanity. He said the government looks forward to his visit. Gordon Brown said that the delegation would firm up its report on the requirements of the country after visiting it and then present its recommendation at a meeting to be held in April, and to be attended by the Secretary General United Nations, the Secretary Generals of Unesco and Unicef and President of the World Bank.

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