Pakistan prime minister arrives in China for two-day visit

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Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in China for a two-day official visit on October 08, 2019. (Photo Courtesy - Prime Minister Office)
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In this file photo, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, left, and China’s Premier Li Keqiang attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 3, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2019

Pakistan prime minister arrives in China for two-day visit

  • PM Khan will discuss regional developments including the situation in Kashmir
  • Will apprise the Chinese leadership of efforts to speed-up implementation of ongoing CPEC projects

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in China on Monday for a two-day official visit, PM Office said.
Khan is visiting Beijing upon the invitation of Prime Minister Li Keqiang and will discuss issues of regional and bilateral significance, including projects under the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with the top Chinese leadership, according to the official handout released by the country’s foreign office earlier in the day.
The premier will hold separate meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and PM Keqiang.
He is accompanied by a high-powered delegation comprising top government officials, including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Planning, and Adviser on Commerce and Chairman BOI. Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is also joining Khan’s meetings with the Chinese leadership, according to the statement.
“The Prime Minister will exchange views on regional developments including the state of peace and security in South Asia arising from the situation in occupied Jammu & Kashmir since 5 August 2019,” the statement added.
The foreign office said that the visit will be instrumental in further cementing Pakistan’s strategic ties with China along with “deepening bilateral trade, a commercial investment partnership.”
During the visit, Khan will interact with senior representatives of the Chinese business and corporate sector.
“Among other things, the Prime Minister will apprise the Chinese leadership of the government’s recent landmark decisions to speed-up implementation of ongoing CPEC projects as well as efforts to project CPEC as a High-Quality Demonstration Project of BRI,” the statement read.
Khan will discuss the expansion of projects under the CPEC framework besides cooperation in agriculture, industrial and socio-economic sectors.
Khusro Bakhtiar, Pakistan’s minister for planning who also oversees CPEC projects, dispelled the impression of a “slowdown” in CPEC.
Bakhtiar said that PM Khan will address during his visit the China-Pakistan Business Forum to further cement economic and trade exchanges between the two countries. He will also meet with Chinese entrepreneurs and heads of different companies during his visit, the minister added.
“Prime Minister’s visit to China is extremely important particularly coming at a point when the two countries have recently signed the second phase of free trade agreement which allows both the countries increased market access and reduced custom duties for their commodities,” Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, senior economist and joint executive director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), told Arab News.
“The visit will also pave way for a clearer understanding and way forward for the joint coordination committee of CPEC which will meet soon,” Ahmed said.
Political analyst Rasul Bakhsh Rais said that “China has emerged as the largest investor in strategic sectors of energy, communications, and industrial infrastructure. After stabilizing the economy, Pakistan wants to engage China on joint business ventures, science, and technology, agriculture and railways, also it desires to expedite the ongoing CPEC projects.”
Khan may also seek China’s help in getting relief for the people of Kashmir by lifting of the two-month-long curfew imposed by India on the part of the disputed valley under its administrative control, Rais said.


Pakistan says hospitals have 'ample resources' against coronavirus while doctors sound alarm

Updated 30 May 2020

Pakistan says hospitals have 'ample resources' against coronavirus while doctors sound alarm

  • ‘Only 25 percent of Pakistan’s hospital assets currently engaged:’ PM’s health adviser
  • In last 24 hours, 78 people died of coronavirus in biggest single day tally in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health, Dr. Zafar Mirza, said in a media briefing on Saturday that Pakistan’s health care sector had ‘ample resources’ to deal with coronavirus while doctors sounded alarm in the country’s most populous province, Punjab.
Pakistan saw a record jump in daily fatalities and cases on Friday with 78 people reported to have died from the virus in 24 hours including four health care workers. The total number of infected cases in the country stands at over 68,000 people with a death count of 1,400 as of Saturday.
“The overall situation in the country is under control as 25 percent of the country’s assets in the health sector are being used currently. It may be that a few hospitals in big cities which have huge influx are facing problems, otherwise we have ample resources to deal with COVID-19 patients so far,” Mirza said.
The PM’s aide also stressed the need for following standard operating procedures and adopting social distancing to contain the spread of the virus.
“In view of growing number of coronavirus cases and deaths due to this disease, the government is left with no option except to declare wearing of masks a must for everyone at public places, especially mosques, markets, shopping malls, public transport, and other crowded places,” he added.
Additionally, a resource management system was being launched to inform the public about the availability of beds and ventilators in different hospitals, he continued.
But some doctors have refuted the government’s claims regarding the state of the health care sector.
Vice Chairman of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) in Punjab, Dr. Shoaib Tarrar, said hospitals in big cities were almost full due to a huge influx of patients during the last week.
“The system is going to collapse in the coming days due to a rise in the number of patients. At Holy Family Hospital Rawalpindi, we have only two beds available with oxygen facility. Our young doctors have informed us about similar situations in the whole of Punjab,” Dr. Tarrar told Arab News. 
Pakistan began relaxing its lockdown measures earlier this month, with shops, businesses and mosques opening up and hundreds of thousands thronging to the marketplaces in anticipation of Eid Al-Fitr last weekend. 
Dr. Javed Akram, Vice Chancellor of University of Health Sciences Lahore, said the government should focus more on capacity building at health facilities to deal with the surge in the number of COVID-19 patients.
“It all depends upon the peak of COVID-19 in Pakistan as it is very difficult to estimate when we will see its peak,” Dr. Akram told Arab News. 
“The government is taking a lot of measures but this is such a huge challenge that the whole world’s health systems have collapsed while dealing with it,” he said, and added that currently, the health system was coping with demand.
But he warned that if the public’s response to coronavirus containment efforts remained lax, there would be a greater surge. 
“Then we will see more influx which will compromise our health system,” he said.