Pakistan PM Imran Khan to visit China next week to revive stalled CPEC projects
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit China on October 7-8 to meet the country's top leadership and revive the stalled USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, according to a media report.
Multi-billion dollar CPEC was launched in 2015 and several projects under the first phase are close to completion. But the progress on CPEC next phase projects have slowed since Prime Minister Imran Khan came to power last year.
Khan's visit to Beijing comes ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's likely visit to India for the second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, amidst fresh tensions between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.
Prime Minister Khan while chairing a meeting on the economic corridor on Wednesday said removal of all bottlenecks in CPEC projects and their timely completion is the top priority of the government, the Dawn newspaper reported. He said he would visit China and meet its leadership to strengthen friendship between the two countries.
The Pakistani daily reported that most of the CPEC-related projects have stalled due to certain reasons, including prevailing financial crunch confronting the government and ‘non-cooperation' of the bureaucracy due to ‘fear of the National Accountability Bureau' – the anti-corruption watchdog.
The CPEC is the flagship project of President Xi Jinping's pet multi-billion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The CPEC has also become a major irritant in India-China relations with New Delhi voicing its opposition to the infrastructure project as it traverses through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar apprised the meeting about the CPEC-related projects and the progress so far made on it. Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed briefed the meeting on Main Line-1 (ML-1) projects being executed to lay a new railway track from Karachi to Peshawar under the umbrella of the CPEC.
Khan's visit will take place at a time when tensions over Kashmir have spiked between Pakistan and India. Beijing, the all-weather ally of Islamabad, has backed Pakistan over the Kashmir issue, with its Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying, "No actions that would unilaterally change the status quo should be taken.