MULTAN (APP): Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Monday rejected opposition’s claims about slowdown of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, saying the two countries were moving towards the second phase of the mega project. Talking to the media before flying to Islamabad here, he said Pakistan and China were satisfied over the progress on CPEC projects. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was leaving for China on a three-day official visit during which he would hold meetings with Chinese president and his counterpart as well as heads of different companies, who were interested for investment in Pakistan. Qureshi said that Chinese president was also paying a visit to India within next few days, adding that China and Pakistan wanted to consult on different issues before the visit.
He said the two friendly countries enjoyed deep-rooted relations and had unprecedented association. Replying to a question, the minister said India wished to blacklist Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), adding that Pakistan had presented its point of view before the Asia Pacific Group about the measures taken by the government in this connection. The foreign minister noted that India was not in a position to allow anyone for visiting IOJ&K because of the lockdown imposed by the Indian government for the last 62 days. He said that US Senator Chris Van Hollen was denied visit to IOJ&K; however, Pakistan facilitated him during his visit to different parts of Pakistan including Azad Kashmir. He said the US senator wrote a letter to US President Donald Trump for his attention toward ongoing situation in IOJ&K. He said Pakistan would welcome world observers who wanted to visit Azad Kashmir to compare the situation in IOJ&K and Azad Kashmir. To another question, Qureshi said the international human rights bodies had now started criticising rights violations by India in the held Valley.
He said that Indian judiciary and media were under pressure from the BJP government; however, the Congress and other opposition parties were opposing the Narendra Modi government stance on the Kashmir issue. Responding to a question, the foreign minister said that Iran and Saudi Arabia were brotherly countries of Pakistan, adding that “we want to resolve misunderstandings between the two countries” because region could not afford any conflict.
Answering a question, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that protest was a right of any political party but the JUI-F should consider the ongoing situation as the Kashmir issue was being focused by the world. He said that October 27 was observed as a black day by Kashmiris and Pakistanis as India had occupied the valley on this date. He said that the JUI-Hind had supported the BJP government on Aug 5 action in which special status of Kashmir was stripped off. Meanwhile, Pakistan Ambassador to China Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi has said that the FTA phase-II between Pakistan and China will be implemented shortly as it is still going through the internal ratification process. In an exclusive interview with China Economic Net in late September, Naghmana said, “We hope that in the next few months, it will become operational.
With the FTA becoming operational, the prices will in any way go down, because import duties will not apply then.” Although the reporter asked for a more specific timeline on the FTA becoming operational, the ambassador said, “That depends on how quickly work is done, because on our side all the procedures have been completed. On the Chinese side, there are a few procedures that are left. So we think it is going to be sooner rather than later. We just need to wait a little more, because governmental procedures have to take time. But I think it will be very shortly very, very shortly.”
The envoy said that the first phase of CPEC is nearing completion and the second phase has now started, which is actually the establishment of Special Economic Zones in various parts of the country. “With the establishment of these Special Economic Zones and increasing number of agreements and cooperation in the agriculture sector, which is a priority for both President Xi and Prime Minister Imran Khan, I think this is one area where there is a huge potential for investments, growth and then re-export of those value-added products to China.”