Bus service through PoK doesn't change our stand on Kashmir: China

Rising Kashmir

Before travelling to China - one of Pakistan's firmest allies - Imran Khan said that he was striving to obtain financial aid from two unnamed countries after Pakistan secured US$6 billion in funding from Saudi Arabia.

"We have lodged strong protests with China and Pakistan on the proposed bus service that will operate through areas of Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir State under the so-called "China-Pakistan Economic Corridor", the spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) told reporters. A loan of $1.5 billion and a grant of $1.5 billion are expected to be offered, along with an additional package of $3 billion for CPEC.

Mr Khan's visit evoked considerable interest in China as it comes in the wake of his past criticism of the United States dollars 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and remarks by his ministers to cut down some of the projects over debt concern. Unfortunately, we have inherited a very hard economic situation.

"Countries go in cycles".

Agreements pertaining to poverty alleviation in Pakistan, strengthening cooperation in agriculture and industrial sectors and technical training were signed by the two sides.

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Pakistan has appealed to the International Monetary Fund for an emergency bailout of US$8 billion and last month also secured a US$6 billion support package from Saudi Arabia.

From Beijing's point of view, Pakistan's criticism of the project was a shocker, especially after China's takeover of Sri Lanka's Hambantota port on a 99-year lease as a debt swap.

"Unfortunately we have inherited a very hard economic situation", Khan said.

"China has always supported Pakistan's safeguarding of national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the new Pakistani government's smooth running of the government and advancement of national construction", he said.

In a meeting with Chinese IDCPC Minister Song Tao in Beijing, he said such exchanges would ensure that the exceptional friendship between Pakistan and China endured from generation to generation.

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China Thursday sought to defend the proposed bus service with Pakistan through PaK, saying its cooperation with Islamabad has nothing to do with the territorial dispute and will not change its principled stance on the Kashmir issue.

Khan is accompanied by foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, finance minister Umar, Advisor on Commerce and Trade Abdul Razzak Dawood, railways minister Sheikh Rasheed among others.

Both foreign ministers underscored the importance of the Pakistan-China all-weather strategic cooperative partnership for shared future in the new era, the spokesman said.

The Prime Minister, who left on a four-day official visit to China said that low crime was easy to check but tackling white collar crime needed speciality and expertise which Pakistan was struggling. The trip "is significant for President Xi Jinping, whose flagship BRI has had hiccups in recent months". "But on the issue of Kashmir, China's position is clear cut".

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