LAHORE - The precarious situation arising out of talks failure with the TTP has compelled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to cancel his China visit scheduled to start from February 19th.

Under the changed situation, President Mamnoon Hussain, who left for Beijing on Tuesday, would represent the Prime Minister in all the scheduled meetings there. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who was scheduled to accompany the Prime Minister is part of President’s delegation.

The Prime Minister also cancelled his Tuesday visit to Karachi where he was scheduled to chair an important meeting on law and order situation. He stayed at the capital instead to meet the Interior Minister and members of government’s committee mandated to hold talks with the TTP.

Sources said that Prime Minister’s presence at home is required as the government might take some crucial decisions in the days to come following tough terms and conditions presented by the government for resumption of peace talks with the TTP.

Meanwhile, President Mamnoon Hussain arrived at Beijing on Tuesday evening on a 3-day State visit. At the Beijing Capital International Airport, red carpet was rolled-out to welcome the distinguished guest and his entourage.

The President was greeted at the airport by Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Guo Ping Cheng. A small Chinese girl presented bouquet. Ambassador Masood Khalid, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong, senior officials from Chinese government and diplomats at Pakistan Embassy were also present on the occasion.

The President’s entourage included Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, Punjab Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Rana Sanaullah and Special Assistant to Prime Minister/Chairman Board of Investment Mifta Ismail.

A contingent of People’s Liberation Army presented the salute to President Mamnoon Hussain, as he came out from his plane.

The Chinese President Xi will formally welcome President Mamnoon Hussain in a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on Wednesday. It will be followed by bilateral talks between the two leaders and signing of various agreements. President Xi will also host a banquet for the President and members of his delegation.

Pakistan Ambassador Masood Khalid said that this is President Mamnoon Hussain’s first State visit since he took office last year, and he is also the first foreign Head of State, received by China since the country’s Spring Festival. 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Zhang Deijiang will also meet him.

The visit would prove instrumental in further cementing the already close and cordial cooperation between Pakistan and China, said Ambassador Khalid, adding, that the two countries highly value its time-tested friendship.

Chinese Foreign Office spokeswoman Hua Chunying in a briefing termed the development of friendship and cooperation with Pakistan a high priority in China’s diplomacy.

She said that China was ready to work with Pakistan to ensure the success of President Mamnoon Hussain’s visit, in a bid to push for new progress in bilateral relations.

Earlier, Chinese delegation led by Communist Party’s Deputy Minister Al Piang, called on Shahbaz Sharif at the Punjab House Islamabad, prior to his embarking on an official visit to China. Provincial Minister for Labour and Manpower Raja Ashfaq Sarwar was also present on the occasion.

Talking to the delegation, Shahbaz Sharif said that bilateral relations between Pakistan and China were of historic importance and these would further strengthen with the passage of time. Pakistan, he said, always attached great value to its ties with China and bilateral contacts between the two countries at all levels and “goodwill sentiments” propping up with more vigour and zeal steadily.

Apprising the delegation about existing trade potential and lucrative

investment opportunities in Pakistan, he said enhanced mutual trade and business cooperation was helping generate more and more employment opportunities for the two neighbouring nations.

The Chief Minister also talked about President Mamnoon Hussain and his entourage’s scheduled meetings with Chinese business giants during their visit to China.

He also informed the delegation about various development projects carried out in Punjab province especially successful and timely completion of Metro Bus service project in Lahore.

Shahbaz Sharif said Chinese companies investing in various sectors of Pakistan were being warmly welcomed, adding, that the government was ensuring provision of conducive business environment, which is helping explore new vistas. Chinese Deputy Minister Al Piang termed the increased cooperation between Pakistan and China in all sectors as “welcoming” and said people of the two sides had great respect for each other and they were strongly bonded in relations of love and respect.

He appreciated Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif for making tireless efforts for strengthening democracy, peace and prosperity in Pakistan. He also lauded the Punjab government for initiating public welfare projects and their fast pace completion.