ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is happy over the developments in China and Russia, where Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are set to lead their nations for several years to come, diplomatic sources said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistani leaders were planning visits to China to personally congratulate Jinping after a constitutional amendment that lifts limits on the number of terms for the president.

“China is always the first priority. There will be visits to China. We are also getting closer to Russia under Putin so we are planning regular visits to Moscow too to enhance ties,” said one official.

He added: “Since President Jinping is the man behind the CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] we always have great expectations from him. Putin has also brought Russia closer to Pakistan. We will take it further during his presidency.”

On Monday, President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi conveyed their felicitations to President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang of China on their re-election to their respective offices.

Both the president and prime minister of Pakistan appreciated the visionary leadership of China for steering the remarkable growth and development of China in the last five years, said a foreign ministry statement. They thanked the leadership of China for actively supporting the CPEC, which is the flagship project of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, it said. “They expressed their desire to continue to work closely with China for further strengthening Pakistan-China relationship in all areas for the mutual benefit of the peoples of the two countries,” the statement added.

Earlier, China’s legislature unanimously approved the reappointment of Jinping as president with no limit on the number of terms he can serve. The National People’s Congress also appointed close Xi ally Wang Qishan to the post of vice-president.

Jinping is considered the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. He became the president in 2013 and has not said how many additional five-year terms he intends to serve.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin was re-elected as the Russian president for another six years after securing victory in the presidential election over the weekend. Putin, who has ruled the country as either president or the prime minister since 1999, got more than 76 per cent of the vote.

Last year, President Putin had offered to mediate between Islamabad and New Delhi to ease tension in south Asia. The move was welcomed by Islamabad but India refused to oblige. He had also refused to condemn the 2016 Uri attack and China also denied support to India’s bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group membership. While China’s response was expected by Pakistan, Russia’s neutrality gave them the boost they wanted as Islamabad took the Kashmir issue to the global powers. However, President Putin signed agreements of cooperation with India in different sectors worth billions of dollars. India and Russia also reached an understanding to manufacture military copters. Reportedly, India is to buy a ground-to-air targeting technology from Russia as well.

Foreign office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said Pakistan had historic ties with China that were ever growing. “With Russia, our cooperation is increasing and President Putin has played a role in improving Pak-Russia relations,” he said.  Faisal said Pakistan wanted to retain friendship with China and enhance ties with Russia in the future.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry on Monday said that the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs had adopted a resolution tabled by Pakistan.

The United Nations CND during its 61st regular session convened in Vienna from March 12-16, adopted by consensus the resolution tabled by Pakistan on the theme of “Strengthening efforts to prevent drug abuse in educational settings.”

The resolution draws the attention of the commission to the common challenges of drug use among children and youth in schools, colleges and universities settings. It underscores the need for enhanced efforts, including policy interventions and comprehensive drug prevention programmes, to protect children and youth from the scourge of illicit drugs and to make educational settings free from drug abuse.

The resolution emphasises the important role of educational settings in promoting healthy lifestyles among young people and calls for close coordination among law enforcement, education and health authorities at domestic level.

 

 The resolution reflects political commitment of the global community to promote international cooperation, including through exchange of experiences and good practices as well as technical assistance, in support of states’ efforts to address drug abuse in educational settings.

The resolution seeks to advance discussions and inspire concerted efforts at all levels for safety and well-being of children and youth. Pakistan’s initiative to table this resolution was widely appreciated, said the foreign ministry. The Vienna-based UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs is the leading policy making body within the United Nations system on matters related to drugs. Pakistan is an elected member of the commission for the four-year term of 2016-2019.

 

 

Shafqat Ali