Sino-Pak relations to be taken to new heights this year: President

KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday renewed the government’s commitment to take Sino-Pak friendship to new heights this year, which marks the 60th anniversary of their bilateral ties.Speaking to a Chinese youth delegation here, he said from year to year, Pakistan-China friendship has grown from strength to strength and it has withstood the test of time and has endured changes at the regional and global level.Welcoming members of the delegation on their visit to Pakistan, he said Pakistan and China share a friendship that is rooted in history.The President said Gandhara civilization links Pakistan and China in common cultural linkages.Silk Route has connected the two countries through centuries.  “Our peoples have waged similar struggles against the forces of oppression. We share common outlook on major international issues.”He said Pakistan People’s Party is especially proud that the foundations of friendship in modern times were laid by the founding Chairman Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Chairman Mao.

Successive governments in Pakistan led by different political parties and leaders have contributed to further strengthening this relationship, he said adding friendship between the two countries is beyond party politics.Shaheed Benazir Bhutto made great efforts for further development of Pak China relations and as the Co-Chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party, he felt honored to follow in the footsteps of the Shaheed leaders, the President added.“We attach the greatest importance to our relations with China. During less than three years I have visited China six times,” he remarked.The recent visit of the Chinese Premier to Pakistan was a landmark in the history of Pak- China relations, President Zardari said adding, “Our friendship has been further strengthened by strong people to people contacts. China’s economic progress is nothing short of a modern day miracle. We deeply admire the rise of China as the second largest economy of the world.”The President said, “What other countries have achieved over the course of centuries, China has achieved in just 30 years.  Today’s China is a living example of the wisdom and vision of its leadership, and the hard work and spirit of its people.”He said developing countries in the region and beyond have much to learn from China’s experience and Pakistan and China together can greatly contribute to the economic development of the region.

The President said Pakistan is strategically located and it offers easy access to three regions of the world – South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia. Pakistan provides the shortest access to the sea for all the landlocked countries of Central Asia as well as to western China, he added.Pakistan with a population of 180 million is a huge market in itself and because of its strategic location Pakistan provides direct land connectivity to four major regions of South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia and China. It is also well placed for outreach to the Middle East, Africa and beyond.President Zardari said Pakistan is in the forefront of global war against terror and “recently we were also hit by the history’s worst floods. Despite these difficulties we are building our economy on sound footing.”Enumerating economic achievements of the government,” President Zardari said Pakistan’s agricultural and industrial productivity is growing, exports particularly to China have grown more than 25% last year and this year the growth is more than 36%.He said mechanisms are put in place for poverty alleviation and Pakistan has a dynamic, intelligent and vibrant youth.“Our youth has a lot of energy, high hopes, great ideals and real potential to achieve almost anything in life. They possess the talent, skills and intelligence.”President Zardari said the government is making all out efforts to harness their potential into rebuilding the country.

“We have confidence and pride in our youth. Despite various challenges that we face today, I trust in the abilities of our youth to make Pakistan a great country and a model for others. Our youth is dedicated to building Pakistan as a strong, modern and a welfare state.”The President called upon the youth of Pakistan and China to come forward and play a leading role in promoting friendship between the two countries.He underlined the need for frequent exchanges among the youth of the two countries as such exchanges would help create understanding among the youth of both countries and further strengthen bonds between them.This is the third Chinese youth delegation visiting Pakistan.  Four Pakistani youth delegations have visited China during the last four years. Pakistan is planning to send fifth youth delegation by the mid of this year.The President said, “We also need to increase exchanges between our universities and academia. We are actively working on increasing the number of Pakistani students in China to 20,000.”The scholarships offered by the Chinese government have helped students studying in China, he said adding Pakistan Study Centers have been established at major Chinese institutions of learning.President Zardari said a Pakistani Culture and Communication Centre has also been set up in a Chinese University and these centers are promoting greater interaction among students and scholars of the two countries.Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah, federal and provincial ministers and members of parliament attended the ceremony – APP