ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Monday Pakistan hoped for “real support” from China in investment and trade rather than handouts, as the South Asian nation is in desperate need for external finances, reeling under a yawning current account deficit and dwindling foreign exchange reserves.
Last week, talks between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund to revive a $6 billion loan program ended without a breakthrough. Successful talks would see the release of an around $1 billion tranche that could also unlock other external funding.
In December 2021, Saudi Arabia deposited $3 billion in Pakistan’s central bank to support foreign reserves. Last week, the Saudi finance minister said the kingdom was finalizing the extension of the deposit.
In a meeting with top officials of Chinese companies and investors in Islamabad, Sharif said Pakistan needed investment from Beijing, “not handouts.”
“We need real support from our Chinese friends in terms of investment, exports, imports and promotion of our expertise, our experience, how to improve agricultural production, how to improve industrial production, how to cut our costs.”
"The stupendous and unprecedented progress by China in the last few decades is a model to emulate, particularly for Pakistan,” Sharif said, thanking President Xi Jinping for “unwavering” support for his country.
Since 2015, China has pledged around $65 billion in an economic corridor of infrastructure and energy projects in Pakistan.
But a series of militant attacks on Chinese targets in Pakistan, including a suicide bombing that killed three Chinese nationals in Karachi last month, have raised concerns about the safety of Beijing’s investments in the South Asian country.
He thanked President Xi Jinping for the unwavering support of his country for Pakistan while hoping the strategic cooperation between the two countries would benefit their people.