Pakistan’s powerful Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif met top Chinese leadership here and assured them to provide full security to the ambitious USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through restive Balochistan province.
Gen Sharif, who is in China on a two-day official visit, met Premier Li Keqiang and Vice President of the Central Military Commission Fan Changlong, the highest military official of the People’s Liberation Army which is headed by President Xi Jinping, on Monday.
During his meeting with Li, Sharif appreciated Pakistan’s profound friendship with China and stressed that the Pakistani side expects achievements from the CPEC and is ready to provide security for cooperation.
Gen Sharif discussed with Chinese officials the measures to improve military cooperation, exponentially enhance training exchanges, defence technology and intelligence sharing and security of the CPEC, Pakistan military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Bajwa said. Li met Sharif to enhance bilateral economic and security ties, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday. Military-to-military relations have reinforced China-Pakistan ties, especially economic cooperation, Li said, calling on both sides to strengthen high-level contact and deepen exchanges in various fields.
The economic corridor is not only a flagship project between the two sides, but also conducive to development and prosperity of the whole region, Li said. Pakistan is readying a special force of 4,000 security personnel to protect Chinese nationals working at various projects in Punjab province, including the CPEC project. Already over 17,000 security personnel from the army and other security forces have been engaged to ensure foolproof security of Chinese nationals working across the country.
The ambitious 3,000-kilometre CPEC project was launched last year to link western China to southern Pakistan through a network of roads, railways and pipelines. Sharif’s trip to Beijing followed last month’s visit of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who held extensive talks with top Chinese leaders and military officials. His visit comes in the backdrop of assertions by Pakistan that it will raise its concerns at the international level over India’s successful test of supersonic interceptor missile.