Politicians show rare unity over CPEC as China urges internal stability for Pakistan’s development

ISLAMABAD: A senior Chinese minister on Friday urged Pakistan’s political leadership to uphold unity and shun differences as “internal stability is imperative for any nation to develop”, saying that Pakistan is China’s “iron brother and time-tested friend” and China accorded a special place to Pakistan in its foreign policy and desired to strengthen the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.

“In a turbulent world of rising uncertainties, stability within the country is essential for development. Faced with complex internal and external challenges, Pakistan is navigating carefully through turbulent rivers,” Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC) Liu Jianchao said as he co-chaired the third meeting of the Pakistan-China Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM) of the Political Parties on the CPEC alongside Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar.

This is the second time with a year China has publicly warned Pakistan against threats of internal split and instability as political discord and polarisation keep hurting Pakistan. It was former Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang on May 6, 2023 had advised Pakistan to uphold unity and bring in stability to meet rising challenges.

“We sincerely hope the political forces in Pakistan will build consensus, uphold stability and more effectively address domestic and external challenges so it can focus on growing the economy,” Qin had said, addressing a press briefing alongside his then Pakistani counterpart, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, after the closed-door strategic talks.

Leaders belonging to all major political parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), were present during the event.

PTI’s Barrister Ali Zafar and Raoof Hasan, PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s Emir Fazlur Rehman, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, and other top leaders were in attendance.

The Chinese official said that there can be sustainable development only when all political parties in a country join hands to ensure political and social stability.

“And for all these years, China has always been striving hard to maintain a good balance of reform, development, and stability — each of the three fundamentals is indispensable.”

The minister noted that over the years, CPEC has boosted Pakistan’s economic and social development. However, he said that more efforts need to be made, especially when it comes to security.

“We are ready to build the upgraded version of CPEC […] we need to improve security and business environment. Security threats are the main hazards disturbing CPEC cooperation,” he highlighted.

In the case of Pakistan, he said, the primary factor shaking the confidence of Chinese investors is the security situation. “Without security, the business environment cannot really improve, which can undermine development in the long run.”

At the same time, he also appreciated the Pakistani security forces for their services in this regard.

Moving on, the senior official said that due to the wholehearted support of the people of both nations, Pakistan and China have become “iron friends”. “Public support is the bedrock of the China-Pakistan relationship.”

However, voicing fears, he said that the mutual affinity between the people of the countries is still not commensurate with the iron-clad friendship of the countries.

“In particular, there’s a rising risk of Western social media which has a huge impact on the younger generation, eroding the foundation of the China-Pakistan friendship,” Liu Jianchao said.

He said the Chinese government was ready to promote exchanges between the youth, media, think tanks, academics, and local governments, and help the public understand the friendship better.

He said the determination of both countries’ leaderships sent a clear message to the world that the China-Pakistan friendship was unbreakable.

He said Pakistan’s government introduced 5Es to focus on five key areas presenting an important opportunity for two peoples to work together to promote the community of shared destiny.

Calling party-to-party relations an integral part of bilateral relations, it was high time the parties contributed their wisdom to turn the blueprint into reality by understanding each other’s development philosophy.

He said the affinity between the two peoples was not commensurate with the iron-clad nature of friendship and announced that IDCPC would invite 300 Pakistani parliamentarians to China in three years besides providing scholarships and vocational training to Pakistani youth.

Highlighting the adverse impacts of Western social media on the young generation regarding bilateral relationships, he said China would also invite people from media on a yearly basis to better understand each other.

In his remarks, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dar reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to enhance people-to-people linkages with China to deepen the sentiments of mutual respect, trust and understanding between the two countries.

Dar said Pakistan-China friendship is a relationship of the past, the present, and the future. He said the strategic trust between the nations is unshakeable and nothing can undo it.

The deputy prime minister said this meeting is a manifestation of a shared commitment to preserve and protect this relationship from the vagaries of national, regional, and international politics.

Dar said there is complete unanimity amongst all political parties in Pakistan on CPEC’s importance for Pakistan’s economic growth and sustainable development.

The deputy prime minister said the CPEC is not merely a symbol of Pakistan-China friendship. It is a shining emblem of a new vision for international cooperation.

He said the people of Pakistan will never forget China’s support in crucial times.

Referring to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent visit to China, Dar said there was renewed consensus on upgradation of the corridor project.  He said we are prioritising industry, modern agriculture, Information Technology and mining and minerals.

Mian Abrar
Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]


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