Xi Jinping in Pakistan: A journey from Middle East to Mongolia without diplomatic embarrassments
By Agha Iqrar Haroon
Long awaited visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping that started on Monday have taken Pakistan out of diplomatic embarrassment it faced last year due to postponement of his visit.
His scheduled visit was postponed on September 6, 2014 due to PTI Dharna (sit in) outside Parliament House. Chinese President dropped Pakistan from his itinerary and continued his visit to New Delhi and landed in India on September 17.
Chinese foreign office on September 5, 2014 claimed that no official visit of Chinese president was scheduled to Pakistan but then changed its stance on September 6, causing a sheer diplomatic embarrassment to both the countries.
I remember it was Saturday on September 6 — a holiday in China and its foreign office was closed but news appeared on Chinese Foreign Office website confirming that the governments of China and Pakistan had mutually agreed to postponement of the state visit of President Xi Jinping to Pakistan, which was scheduled to take place in September. Just a day before, on September 5, Chinese Foreign office spokesman said during his press briefing that there was no schedule visit of Chinese President to Pakistan on agenda therefore there was no question that visit had been postponed while Pakistan Foreign Office was insisting that visit of Chinese President was on agenda and had postponed due to political turmoil in Pakistan. Clarification released by Chinese Foreign office on September 6 multiplied diplomatic embarrassment for Pakistan as well as for china due to lack of understanding and communication over such important issue of a state visit of Chinese President to Pakistan. Indian media made mockery of Pakistan when Chinese president visited India on September 17.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not stop his quest to push Chinese leadership to visit Pakistan and himself went to Beijing on November 9, 2014 and signed 29 international contracts but implementation of these contracts was conditioned to the propose visit of Chinese President to Islamabad.
The visit of Chinese president to Pakistan became a political issue in Pakistan instead of a diplomatic development because Pakistan has no Foreign Minister and Prime Minister is running the country with Advisors for Foreign office due to reasons best known only to Prime Minister himself. Opposition parties rightly tagged postponement Chinese Presidential visit to Pakistan as “diplomatic disaster of Nawaz Sharif”.
It was expected that Pakistan would give extraordinary and exceptional welcome to Chinese President Xi Jinping to shun impression off that Pakistan is no more very important ally of China. Meanwhile article written by Chinese President and published by Pakistani media a day before his arrival also helped to boost image of Pak-China friendship. In his article he said:
“My visit is like I am visiting my own brother. I look forward to working with Pakistani leaders during the visit to explore the general framework for bilateral cooperation, make substantial progress in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and practical cooperation in other fields and push for the furtherance of bilateral ties at a higher level”.
The presence of all three chiefs of armed forces at airport along with President and prime Minister of Pakistan to receive Xi Jinping confirmed that China is the most important ally for Pakistan in diplomatic horizon and 21-gun salute to Xi Jinping at Nur Khan Airbase Rawalpindi was a symbol for Pak-China defence relations because gun used for this salute were made by joint technology of Pakistani and Chinese engineers while jointly developed JF-17 aircrafts escorted the plane of the Chinese President as he entered into the Pakistan airspace.
Announcement of conferring the country’s highest civil award, the `Nishan-e-Pakistan’ to Xi Jinping and his address to Joint Session of Pakistani parliament are very significant events along with signing of 49 billion US dollar projects between the two countries.
The signing of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will enable Pakistan to link itself as far as Mongolia at one side and to central Asia at other side while avoiding troubled Afghanistan. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will link Pakistan to already developed New Silk Road that links China to South East Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and ends at Europe. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is not only road network rather a multi source networking including highways, railways and pipelines. China will be linked with Middle East via Gwader Port enabling china to cut its cargo cost while reaching Middle Eastern market.