m3n4.net
m3n4.net November 21, 2018


China promises Pakistan support as Imran Khan tells of 'very difficult' economy

03 November 2018, 01:01 | Vera Richards

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While China asserted that the bus service from Lahore to Tashkurgan in Xinjiang - timed to begin when Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will be visiting Beijing - did not alter the country's stance on the Kashmir issue, Pakistan dismissed India's objections as "frivolous".

"The nation will receive a good news soon", he said, adding that the economic package will help alleviate Pakistan's fiscal crisis.

China has pledged more than US$60 billion to Pakistan in the form of loans and investments for roads, ports, power plants and industrial estates under the scheme, but the South Asian nation's ability to meet the repayments has always been a matter of some concern.

This is the second Dollars 6 billion package which Khan has managed to obtain in the last few weeks as Pakistan reeled under severe financial crisis.

During his visit to Saudi Arabia last month, Riyadh committed $6 billion funding which included $3 billion deferred payment for oil imports.

Pakistan has already approached the IMF but is concerned about the stringent conditions the global lender may impose specially to scrutinise the CPEC projects.

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Despite having no border of direct link with Pakistan, China defended the over United States dollars 50 billion so-called "China-Pakistan Economic Corridor", saying that it is an economic cooperation project between China and Pakistan.

Khan, who arrived in Beijing on Thursday evening for a five-day visit - his first to the city since his election victory in August - said before he left that he wanted to learn more from China, which is not only Pakistan's strategic partner but also its biggest foreign investor and aid donor.

China is one of Pakistan's closest allies, and the Asian superpower today pledged to continue helping Mr Khan.

"As for the bus service, I have not heard of the relevant information and I have not heard of complaints", Lu Kang, China's foreign ministry spokesperson, said at the ministry's regular briefing, when asked about India's protest against the move.

Khan is accompanied by foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, finance minister Umar, Advisor on Commerce and Trade Abdul Razzak Dawood, railways minister Sheikh Rasheed among others.

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo has expressed opposition to using International Monetary Fund money to repay Chinese loans.

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Pakistan is already highly dependent on China as the bulk of the foreign loans inherited by Mr Khan's government are with Chinese lenders.

An IMF delegation is due to visit China next week and the Khan government wants to minimise the bailout package it seeks from the worldwide lender.

Khan is expected to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People on Saturday when they will sign several agreements.

According to a statement released by Khan's office in Islamabad, the prime minister said the belt and road initiative would translate into a win-win for shared prosperity in the region and beyond.

Khan is also keen to renegotiate Islamabad's projects under the "Belt and Road Initiative", Beijing's worldwide trade and infrastructure development programme.

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