Pakistan Army chief holds talks with Chinese counterpart on CPEC, defence tie
Beijing :Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa held talks with his Chinese counterpart Gen Han Weiguo on the security of the multi-billion CPEC, defence cooperation, as well as regional and bilateral issues. The meeting of Bajwa, who arrived at Beijing on a three-day official visit on Sunday, comes days after Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s visit to Islamabad during which he held a comprehensive round of talks with Khan and Bajwa among others. Both China and Pakistan’s new government led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan denied reports of differences over the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China subsequently announced expansion of the CPEC projects to western regions of Pakistan in an apparent move to address criticism by Khan in the past against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s government that most of the Chinese-funded projects were garnered by the dominant Punjab province. India has protested to China on the CPEC as it traversed through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. While there is not much coverage in the official media in China, a statement by Pakistan Army’s media wing Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that Gen. Han “appreciated and acknowledged high professional standing of Pakistan Army displayed while combating terrorism”. He also appreciated the level of security being provided to the CPEC by Pakistan Army. Over 10,000 Chinese workers are said to be working in CPEC projects in Pakistan. The security for them is provided by the Special Security Division comprising 15,000 troops, including 9,000 Pakistan Army soldiers and 6,000 paramilitary forces personnel. On terrorism related issues, China has been pressing Pakistan to crack down hard on Uyghur militants of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement from the restive Xinjaing province. The Chinese General expressed his keen desire to benefit from Pakistan Army’s combat experience and also expand bilateral cooperation, the ISPR added. Bajwa’s visit assumes significance as Wang during his visit had praised the Pakistani military’s role in the close ties between the two countries, saying that it is a “staunch guardian of China-Pakistan friendship”. The CPEC, a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative launched in 2015, is a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking China’s resource-rich Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.