‘Iron Brothers’: China, Pakistan air forces begin joint training exercises

Irshad Salim — The air forces of China and Pakistan began joint training exercises in China on Thursday and will run through end of the month, report Xinhua.

“To build a world-class air force, we need to learn from foreign armies and improve our capability to complete multiple tasks,” said said Shen Jinke, spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, adding the Chinese air force will increase international exchanges and sharpen its combat effectiveness.

Pakistan has sent JF-17 Thunder fighter jets and early warning aircraft to join the exercise, named “Shaheen VI,” which will run until Sept. 27, Shen said.

The “Shaheen” joint training was launched by the Chinese and Pakistani air forces in March 2011.

China has dispatched J-11 fighters, JH-7 fighter-bombers, KJ-200 AWACS aircraft and ground forces including surface-to-air missile and radar troops, said Shen, adding that the Chinese navy’s aviation troops will also participate in the training.

Both countries have a strong and robust defense, strategic and geopolitical relationship– they call each other ‘Iron Brothers’ and have embarked on a gigantic $62 billion geoeconomic venture called the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is expected to make Pakistan the center of economic gravity in the region.

China defends Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts

China on Friday defended Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts, following President Donald Trump’s accusation that Islamabad harbors militants attacking US and Afghan troops.

China said it will play a constructive role in bringing Pakistan and Afghanistan on the same page as part of fresh efforts to resolve the 16-year conflict in the war-torn country by hosting a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of the three countries. Beijing also praised Pakistan for doing its best to combat terrorism.

“Pakistan is a good brother and iron friend of China. No one knows Pakistan and understands Pakistan better than China,” foreign minister Wang Yi said while addressing a joint press conference with his visiting Pakistan counterpart Khawaja Muhammad Asif in Beijing on Friday.

Beijing’s move on Afghanistan is seen as an attempt to counter US president Donald Trump’s tough policy against Pakistan (its ‘iron brother’) which was announced last month as part of America’s new Afghanistan and South South Asia policy.

“The participation of China in bringing together and finding a political solution to Afghan problem is very vital. To support the initiative, Pakistan has already undertaken many steps, and will pursue those steps of improving relationship with Kabul,” Yi told the news conference.

Addressing the joint press conference after his meeting with Wang Yi, Pakistani FM Asif said that the two countries agreed that the solution to the Afghan conflict has to be fundamentally political and that there is no military solution to the issue.

Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign minister said Pakistan and China stand together in the changing regional and global scenario.

“China supports Pakistan in safeguarding its national sovereignty and dignity,” he said.

Wang Yi said the international community should recognize Pakistan’s efforts to eliminate terrorism.

“When it comes to the issue of counterterrorism, Pakistan has done its best with a clear conscience. In comparison, some countries need to give Pakistan the full credit that it deserves.”

The Chinese foreign minister “reiterated China’s consistent support to Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, stability and development” and lauded “Pakistan’s remarkable achievements in counter-terrorism”.

“Pakistan has been at the forefront of international efforts to combat terrorism for a long time, which the international community should recognize and appreciate,” Wang asserted.

After his China visit, Asif will travel to Iran. He has also planned meetings with Russian and Turkish leaders.

Both Moscow and Beijing have criticized the US position on Pakistan and have insisted that Pakistan’s importance for peace in Afghanistan and its sacrifices in the fight against terrorism need to be recognized.

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