Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while sharing details of his recent trip to China, said on Monday that Chinese President Xi Jinping was “very keen” to visit Pakistan and that discussions on this topic had taken place between both sides.
“He (Xi) is very keen to come,” Qureshi told reporters. “Both sides understand that his visit will be of an extraordinary nature. For that there is a need to understand the flux in regional and international situation and also to prepare before his trip.” The minister said that a “roadmap” was discussed and further interaction between the two countries will be seen in the coming days. The date of President Xi’s visit will be decided keeping in mind the “developments and the Covid-19 situation”, Qureshi said.
His remarks come days after President Xi, in a letter to his Pakistani counterpart President Arif Alvi, said that his country was ready to work with Pakistan to deepen the building of “China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future” and to jointly promote cooperation among regional countries. The Chinese president further said that both Pakistan and China were working to maintain the “momentum of peace and development in the region”.
In today’s press talk, Qureshi also explained that the purpose of his recent visit was to “understand [China’s] current state of mind and gauge their stance on India”.
“I can tell you that I didn’t see any hesitation, their (China’s) stance is very clear,” he said.
The foreign minister also touched upon the relations of other regional countries with India, saying that the impression that Saarc member countries were “leaning towards India” was dissolving. He referred to India’s conflict with Nepal and the recent resolution passed by the latter’s parliament in that regard in addition to “a lack of warmth” in India’s ties with Bangladesh.
The foreign minister dispelled reports of deterioration in relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, saying that such rhetoric was based on “speculation”. Responding to a question regarding the veracity of reports that Saudi Arabia had demanded from Pakistan money the kingdom had lent in addition to suspending a loan oil facility, Qureshi said these were just “speculative” reports and that “no decision like that was made” and then proceeded to take a dig at the media for “keeping your shop vibrant” by reporting based on “mere assumptions”.
“Your question is based on an assumption. These are speculations. No decision like that was taken,” he told the reporter and, in a light vein, added: “If you don’t speculate, how will you run your shop, at the end of the day, you have to report something. We don’t want your shop to close, it should be more vibrant and I will try to make it so, don’t worry.”
Reports of souring ties between the kingdom and Pakistan emerged after Qureshi, during a talk show, bluntly asked the Saudi-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to stop dilly-dallying on the convening of a meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on the Kashmir issue. “I am once again respectfully telling OIC that a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is our expectation. If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris,” he had said.
The Foreign Office had later defended his remarks, saying that his statement was a reflection of people’s aspirations and expectations from the OIC to raise the Kashmir issue internationally were not against diplomatic norms.The foreign minister insisted that ties between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which he described as “people-centric”, had always been strong and will remain so in the future.“Our relationship is not new, and it is people-centric, it’s not just between governments. So if I have a relationship with you, I will also have expectations. If we don’t have any relationship, why would we have expectations? So, on Kashmir, Pakistanis have a clear stance and have expectations from our friends which we keep expressing and will continue to do so.”
He recalled that the OIC’s Kashmir contact group had held a virtual meeting this year, which was also attended by the Saudi foreign minister, where a statement prepared by Pakistan was approved by all members, including Saudi Arabia.Qureshi said multiple resolutions had been passed by the OIC that were “clear, straightforward and in accordance with Pakistan’s stance”.
“There is no ambiguity but absolute clarity. I am telling you this clearly, there is no change in Saudi Arabia’s stance on Kashmir. And OIC’s stance is before you, now we have to decide how we will take this forward.”Responding to a question regarding Pakistan’s stance on ties with Israel, Qureshi said that Pakistan “will not come under international pressure”.“Prime Minister Imran Khan has given a clear statement on this in accordance with Quaid-i-Azam’s stance. We will not come under any international pressure,” he declared.“You can see that though they took some time, Saudi Arabia took a similar stance and I am sure that most of the Muslim ummah shares this position.”
“If we recognise Israel and ignore tyranny faced by the Palestinians, we will have to give up (the cause of) Kashmir as well, and this we cannot do,” the premier had said in an interview.Qureshi also spoke about ongoing talks between the Afghan Taliban and Kabul, saying progress was being made towards a final peaceful solution.