- Foreign Ministry adamant that Chinese president’s visit to Pakistan was postponed owing to PTI, PAT protests
- Chinese Foreign Ministry has already confirmed that it had never released President Xi’s visit to Pakistan officially
While the Chinese Foreign Ministry made it clear on Friday that it never released any information about Chinese President XI Jinping’s visit to Pakistan officially, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry is adamant that the visit was scheduled and was later postponed owing to anti-government protests in the federal capital.
With the protests by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) prolonging, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government ministers have been lashing out at protest leaders Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri on various fronts.
Postponement of the Chinese president’s visit is one such blame that the government has pinned on the protesters – substantiated by statements of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal in the past two days.
PML-N MINISTERS SAY PTI, PAT ARE TO BLAME:
Supported by Aziz, Dar had claimed during the Parliament’s joint session that the cancellation of the Chinese president’s visit had jeopardised $35 billion Chinese investment in Pakistan while the Finance Ministry had also blamed PTI and PAT protests for causing political unrest in the country and thereby leading to a delay in the IMF tranche of $550 million.
Sartaj Aziz had said that arrangements for the Chinese president’s visit were in place until Thursday and the government was trying to shift some of the meetings to Lahore due to the situation in Islamabad, as private TV channels had reported that the Chinese president was scheduled to pay a two-day visit to Pakistan on September 14-16.
Ahsan Iqbal, in the meanwhile, had hit a sarcastic note in a tweet “congratulating” PTI and PAT for being responsible for the postponement of the Chinese president’s visit.
FOREIGN MINISTRY JOIN PROTESTERS’ BASHING:
On Saturday, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry “formally” joined the PML-N ministers’ claim by announcing the postponement of the Chinese president’s visit to the country, saying, “In view of the current political situation in Pakistan, the governments of China and Pakistan have mutually agreed to postpone the state visit of HE Xi Jinping, President of China, to Pakistan, which was scheduled to take place later this month.”
The statement added that new dates for the president’s visit to Pakistan were being discussed through diplomatic channels.
“Both countries underline that China and Pakistan are time-tested all-weather friends. Both sides attach high importance to the visit of President Xi Jinping to Pakistan, as early as possible, for promoting mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries,” the statement said.
Furthermore, two more foreign heads have also cancelled their visit due to the ongoing protests in the capital by supporters of PTI and PAT, who have blocked the Constitution Avenue for the past three weeks.
The media had earlier reported that a Chinese advance team did not give security clearance in a meeting with Pakistani officials in Islamabad.
BUT THE PRESIDENT WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO COME ANYWAY:
During a press conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang said, “We never released any information about President Xi’s visit to Pakistan officially. So, it is baseless to say that the visit is being cancelled,” he added.
“We have maintained close high-level exchanges. Both sides are in close communication on the next step of such exchanges. As for the current security situation in Pakistan, we hope relevant parties in Pakistan can work together while bearing in mind the fundamental interests of the state and the people and jointly safeguard national security,” Qin said.
While Pakistan’s prime minister looks to resolve the political impasse by “politics of reconciliation” or a “blame game” on the paradox of Chinese dignitary’s visit, the Chinese president, however, will visit India and Sri Lanka as had been the plan.