Pakistan, China sign 15 agreements on a range of bilateral issues

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, left, and China's Premier Li Keqiang attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 04 November 2018

Pakistan, China sign 15 agreements on a range of bilateral issues

  • Islamabad reaffirms its support in combating terrorism
  • Both countries dismiss growing propaganda against CPEC

ISLAMABAD: With an aim to consolidate their strategic partnership and all-weather friendship, Pakistan and China signed 15 agreements on Sunday covering a range of bilateral issues, as part of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first visit to the country, a joint statement said.

The statement added that building a closer China-Pakistan community in the new era was the pillar of the continued relationship between the “iron brothers.” 

Pakistan, on its part, reaffirmed its support in safeguarding China’s sovereignty and security, while enhancing cooperation against the “three evils” of extremism, terrorism and separatism, the statement said.

Dismissing the growing propaganda against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, both Beijing and Islamabad expressed their determination to protect the initiative against all threats, while agreeing to speed up progress along the Gwadar port. “Both sides reviewed the early phase of the CPEC and reaffirmed their complete consensus on the future trajectory of CPEC, timely completion of on-going projects and joint efforts for realization of its full potential,” the statement added.

They also agreed to task the CPEC’s Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) with formulating ideas to explore new areas of cooperation. “It was decided that the eighth session of the JCC will be held in Beijing before the end of the year. 

The two sides announced the setting up of a working group on socio-economic development, to assist with livelihood projects in Pakistan,” the statement added.

The two sides discussed ways to boost Pakistan’s industrial capacity through joint ventures, including steps to take concrete measures in addressing the trade imbalance. “These would include an exchange of trade missions, broadening market access for agricultural and ICT products, and simplifying customs, quarantine and phytosanitary procedures,” the statement said.

Pakistan and China acknowledged the need to conclude the second phase of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement as early as possible and further enhance defense cooperation, maintain high-level visits and exchanges between relevant departments of the two countries’ armed forces,  while making full use of the China-Pakistan Defense and Security Consultation mechanism to deepen cooperation in military exercises and technology.

Islamabad applauded Beijing’s efforts in combating corruption with successful results, while expressing an interest to imbibe and apply similar practices in Pakistan as well. 

Acknowledging the fact that China was a popular choice for Pakistanis — with more than 25,000 students enrolled across universities in the country —  China, on its part, said that it would offer additional scholarships for students from the neighboring country. 

To facilitate this process, the two countries discussed methods to establish a committee to encourage youth exchange programs and ensure cooperation in the area. 

Additionally, they reaffirmed their commitment to uphold the purpose and principles of the UN Charter, in terms of promoting international peace and security and safeguarding the contemporary world order.

Khan is visiting China on the invitation of Prime Minister Li Keqiang. During his visit, he also called on President Xi Jinping and a coterie of other officials.


Bin Laden anthrax scientist under house arrest after jail

Updated 22 November 2019

Bin Laden anthrax scientist under house arrest after jail

  • Sufaat, 55, recruited militants, tried making biological weapon agent near Afghan airport

KUALA LUMPUR: A US-educated biochemist with links to Al-Qaeda and Daesh was on Wednesday released from prison by Malaysian authorities.

Yazid Sufaat, who recruited militants for the terror groups and tried to help Osama bin Laden develop anthrax for use as a biological weapon, will remain under heavy police watch.

The 55-year-old walked free from the Simpang Renggam penitentiary in Johor and was sent to his home in Bandar Baru Ampang in Selangor, on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

He has been placed under house arrest and will be required to wear an electronic monitoring device, said Royal Malaysia Police counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay. In addition, Sufaat would not be allowed to leave his home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. and had been barred from using the internet.

The scientist, who trained militants for the late terror group leader Bin Laden and spent several months trying to produce anthrax in a laboratory near Kandahar airport in Afghanistan, has been jailed three times in the past 17 years on various terrorism-related charges.

He was first arrested in December 2001 and sentenced to seven years in prison. In 2013, the former military officer was convicted of recruiting members for Daesh and received a four-year jail term, and in 2017 he was arrested again for Al-Qaeda recruitment among fellow inmates.

In the 1990s, Sufaat joined Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a Southeast Asian extremist group led by Indonesian militants. In 2000, he acquired four tons of ammonium nitrate for a series of foiled bomb attacks in Singapore.

Months before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, he hosted meetings for senior Al-Qaeda members, during which they “spoke about the possibility of hijacking planes and crashing them,” according to the 9/11 Commission Report.

Dr. Danial Yusof, who leads a research unit on extremism at the International Islamic University Malaysia, told Arab News that the decision by the Prevention of Terrorism Board (POTB) to release Sufaat came after an evaluation process that included agencies such as the Royal Malaysia Police, prisons department and the Ministry of Home Affairs, and which put “national security as primary consideration for release.”

Sufaat will be required to report to local police twice a week and can only leave the vicinity of his house with written permission from the Selangor police chief.

According to Yusof, the measures were aimed at preventing Sufaat from reoffending and carrying out further recruitment.

Meanwhile, he said a major challenge for Malaysia’s deradicalization and rehabilitation program, would be the repatriation of around 140 former Malaysian followers of Daesh who are expected to return from Syria and Iraq.

With many of them being women and children, it would be a “test for Malaysia’s compassionate approach in counterviolence and extremism,” he added.

Yusof noted that Sufaat’s case could serve as a “reference point” for deradicalization of the individuals and their reintegration
into society.

However, Nasir Abbas, a former senior member of JI who is now involved in the Indonesian government’s deradicalization program, told Arab News on Thursday that rehabilitation efforts had so far failed to change Sufaat. 

“He still wants to engage in violent jihad. I am sure that once he is free, he will still campaign his cause to ordinary people,” he said.