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.


US army investigating plane crash in Taliban-held area

Updated 14 min 27 sec ago

US army investigating plane crash in Taliban-held area

  • Earlier, three senior Afghan government officials said one of the state-owned airline’s planes had crashed in Afghanistan’s central Ghazni province

KABUL: The US military said Monday that it is investigating reports of an airplane crash in Taliban-controlled territory in Afghanistan.
US Army Maj. Beth Riordan, a spokeswoman for US Central Command, said that it remained unclear whose aircraft was involved in the crash.
Riordan declined to immediately comment further.
However, pictures on social media purportedly from the crash site showed what could be the remains of a Bombardier E-11A aircraft, which the US military uses for electronic surveillance over Afghanistan.
Local Afghan officials had said earlier on Monday that a passenger place from Afghanistan's Ariana Airlines had crashed in the Taliban-held area of the eastern Ghazni province. However, Ariana Airlines told The Associated Press that none of its planes had crashed in Afghanistan.
The conflicting accounts could not immediately be reconciled. The number of people on board and their fate was not immediately known, nor was the cause of the crash.
Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the plane went down around 1:10 pm local time (8:40 am GMT) in Deh Yak district, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of the capital Kabul. He said the crash site is in territory controlled by the Taliban. Two provincial council members also confirmed the crash.
But the acting director for Ariana Airlines, Mirwais Mirzakwal, dismissed reports that one the company's aircraft had crashed. The state-owned airline also released a statement on its website saying all its aircraft were operational and safe.
The mountainous Ghazni province sits in the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains and is bitterly cold in winter. The Taliban currently control or hold sway over around half the country.
The last major commercial air crash in Afghanistan occurred in 2005, when a Kam Air flight from the western city of Herat to Kabul crashed into the mountains as it tried to land in snowy weather.
The war, however, has seen a number of deadly crashes of military aircraft. One of the most spectacular occurred in 2013 when an American Boeing 747 cargo jet crashed shortly after takeoff from Bagram air base north of Kabul en route to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. All seven crew member were killed. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that large military vehicles were inadequately secured and had shifted during flight, causing damage to the control systems that "rendered the airplane uncontrollable."
Afghanistan's aviation industry suffered desperately during the rule of the Taliban when Ariana, its only airline at the time, was subject to punishing sanctions and allowed to fly only to Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrimage.
Since the overthrow of the Taliban's religious regime, smaller private airlines have emerged, but the industry is still a nascent one.