China, Pakistan strategic partnership to remain unfazed despite political change, says China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson
Irshad Salim — Pakistan’s long-standing ally and ‘all-weather friend’ China on Friday hoped all parties and sections in Pakistan could prioritize state and national interests, maintain unity and stability, and keep focusing on the economic and social development of the country.
China’s comments came as Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday from holding public office for life in a corruption inquiry linked to the Panama Papers, which had named three of his children as owners of offshore companies suspected of laundering money. The court also ordered the National Accountability Bureau, the country’s top anticorruption agency, to file corruption cases against Mr. Sharif and his family members based on the evidence collected by the court appointed Joint Investigation Team (J.I.T.).
“This is the internal affair of Pakistan. As a friendly neighbor, China hopes that all parties and sections in Pakistan can prioritize state and national interests, properly deal with their domestic affairs, maintain unity and stability, and keep focusing on the economic and social development,” Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Lu Kang said while commenting on disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court ruling on Panamagate case.
China has a huge stake in the $62 billion economic corridor which will meander through Pakistan and provide the former shortest, most economical shipping and trade route to the Middle East, Africa and beyond. It therefore naturally expects continuity and stability in political landscape while at the same time invoking transparency and respect for rule of law — major ingredients to capitalize the game-changing corridor’s development in Pakistan.
On the latest political situation in Pakistan, the Chinese FM said after a press conference in Beijing, “We have noted relevant reports” adding, the all-weather friendship between China and Pakistan has withstood the test of times.
Lu added, “We believe that the China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership will not be affected by the change of the situation inside Pakistan.”
“China stands ready to work with Pakistan to continue jointly building the Belt and Road and build a community of shared future, which serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples and promotes peace and development of the region and beyond,” Lu said.
The CPEC launched in 2015 is the flagship of China’s ambitious OBOR initiative first announced by President Xi Jinping back in 2014.
According to reports, PM Sharif’s brother Shahbaz who is presently the Chief Minister of Punjab — Pakistan’s largest province and bastion of Sharif’s political power, is expected to get elected the PM for rest of the PML-N rule in the center until next elections are held in spring of 2018.
He’s a palatable figure to many Pakistanis, according to a Gallup Pakistan poll from last week — but since he’s not a parliamentarian, he’d have to resign his current post and seek election in the National Assembly before he could become a candidate for interim leader.
Sharif’s term as prime minister was a period marked by economic growth, infrastructure expansion, a drop in poverty and increased cooperation with China. Until recently, Pakistan’s stock market out-performed all others in Asia.
Sharif’s brother Shahbaz enjoys strong and close working relationship with the Chinese — they are the biggest investors in the most influential province where he has been the chief executive since last nine years and succeeded in raking in millions of dollars of state and private investments into his province mainly from China followed by Turkey.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (ruling party) has decided to bring in Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (who served as the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources in Sharif’s government) as an interim prime minister for few weeks before electing Shahbaz Sharif to the post, report Geo News.