ISLAMABAD/BEIJING: Army Chief General Raheel Sharif has called on Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing and discussed cooperation in different sectors including defense.

 The Chinese premier said both the countries enjoy historic political, military and economic relations.

 Flagship China Pakistan Economic Corridor project will bring stability and development to the whole region. China is cooperating with Pakistan for regional peace and prosperity. The Army Chief said Pakistan Army is ready to provide safe environment for the CPEC. Army Chief also held meeting with the head of Chinese Army Chief.

 They discussed measures to improve military to military cooperation and security of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) among other issues with top Chinese military leadership. According to ISPR, Both the leaders discussed measures to improve military to military cooperation, exponentially enhanced training exchanges, defence technical and intelligence sharing. They also discussed the security of China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Lt. Gen. (R) Abdul Qayyum (Senator, PML-N) said: “China Pakistan Economic Corridor is imperative for the development of Pakistan. This will benefit the whole region. Under the CPEC, new link roads and tunnels will be constructed. Especially the Gawadar port will prove to be a game changer in the region. This corridor has great importance for China as well. The CPEC will shorten the distances between the linked countries. The project will benefit the Western part of China. Even India and Afghanistan will also get benefits from this project. Pakistan wants sustainable relations with its neighboring countries. However, our neighboring countries should stop proxy wars and state terrorism against us. India always created hurdles for Pakistan and the delay in F-16 deal is also because of the Indian lobby active in the US. Pakistan also has options other than F-16s but Pakistan does not want to damage its relations with the US. The US establishment understands the requirement and role of F-16s in counter terrorism operations of Pakistan. Pakistan is still hopeful that this deal might go through. We will raise this issue in the meeting with the US officials later this month.”

 Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Raza Muhammad Khan (Defense Analyst) said “China and Pakistan have deep ties and they have a relation of mutual confidence. Since the inception of Pakistan, the relations between the two neighboring countries have been going strong. During his meetings with the Chinese leadership, Army Chief discussed the measures to enhance security of CPEC projects. They also discussed the existing level of military training and future opportunities. Both China and Pakistan are members of quadrilateral group on Afghanistan and have been making efforts to bring peace in that war torn country. China has been a leading arms supplier to Pakistan. Chinese officers come to Staff College for training. The problem of F-16s is a smaller one. F-16 is a fighter jet of the 1980s. JF 17 is a modern aircraft which can match F-16 in most respects. We should invest money on upgradation of JF-17 Thunder instead of buying F-16s.”

Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Amjad Shoaib (Defense Analyst) said “Though it is a short visit of the Army Chief to China, but its importance cannot be denied. This visit has three objectives i.e. security of CPEC, military cooperation and to bring Afghan Taliban on the negotiation table. China has always supported Pakistan in every problem. They think our issues as their own issues. We are facing the problem of weaker economy and shortage of energy. China is giving us help in various energy projects. The US wants Pakistan to act against Afghan Taliban which is not possible for Pakistan. India has been trying to increase its influence in Afghanistan, after the pulling out of foreign troops. Afghanistan, itself, is not sincere in resolving the issues with Taliban.”

 Dr. Pervez Iqbal Cheema (Senior Analyst) said “Pakistan has a very strong interest in timely completion of China Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Pakistan understands the importance of this corridor for its future progress and prosperity. On the other hand, India is afraid of economic development of Pakistan. The heavy investment of China in Pakistan shows Beijing’s interest in Pakistan. This investment is a proof of deep and strong ties between the two countries. This will change the face of the region. It will also increase the volume of exports as Gwadar port is the most suitable route of trade for Central Asian countries.”