The conference of the CPEC Political Parties Joint Consultation Mechanism (JCM) is now a new focus of the world. The reason is very simple. It is the first political wonder on regional and international landscapes that carries natural mettle to stay alive with robust momentum, winning deep political consensus.

Against adversaries’ ambition to see splits in national unanimity, JCM has risen on the horizon as the ultimate symbol of national consent among all political parties of Pakistan. It has made everybody sit up and take notice by presenting a message to the world that the faith of provincial political forces and mainstream political parties—whether they are in opposition or in government—on CPEC is unfluctuating.

JCM is undoubtedly a stepping stone that brings a fresh sense of friendliness, trust and unanimity beyond any political and government persona.

In spectacular materialisation of JCM, the role of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC) and the Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) is commendable.

When conspiracy theories ran amok, that the political vision of China and Pakistan were at odds, IDCPC and PCI have played their pivotal role by successfully holding the second Conference of the CPEC Political Parties Joint Consultation Mechanism (JCM) 2020.

On the theme of “Working Together to Promote Economic Development and Improve People’s Lives Through High-Quality CPEC Cooperation, President Xi Jingping said CPEC helped the two countries enhance their bilateral ties and political consensus. Xi, also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks in a verbal message to Pakistani President Arif Alvi, who sent a congratulatory message to the opening of the second meeting of the CPEC Political Parties Joint Consultation Mechanism (JCM).

JCM brought together nine political parties including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), the Pakistan People’s Party, the Balochistan Awami Party, the National Party, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, the Awami National Party, the Jamaat-e-Islami, and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, as well as leading officials from relevant government departments and representatives from the business communities of the two countries.

The first JCM was organised in Beijing in March 2019 and this JCM has now taken the shape of the institutional mechanism between the CPC and Pakistani political parties for CPEC coordination and communication.

This online conference of nine political parties representing both the government and the opposition was the first of its kind in Pakistan that agreed to preserve, protect and promote CPEC, above party lines, since they all view CPEC as a “game changer and a guarantor of a better tomorrow for Pakistan’s 220 million people”.

National consensus on which all political parties stand united are not too many. Democracy, the Kashmir policy, 1973 constitution and the nuclear power programme are some examples. In 2015, a new solid addition brimming with complete national consent has come to limelight. It is, undoubtedly, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Similarly to others, all political parties whether in opposition or government, despite their deep-rooted disagreements, boast one agreement that CPEC is the lifeline to Pakistan. Even the parliament, comprising both the lower and upper houses echoes with robust harmony and seamless unanimity on positive impacts of CPEC.

During the conference of the CPEC Political Parties Joint Consultation Mechanism (JCM) held on August 20, 2020, President Arif Alvi, in a congratulatory message to the conference, termed CPEC as ‘an iconic project of the Belt and Road Initiative which will change the destiny of the region and promote regional connectivity’. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong support to the One China policy and strongly opposed any foreign intervention in internal affairs of China with regards to Hong Kong and Taiwan. He also thanked China for supporting Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

The conference was co-chaired from the Pakistani side by the Chairman Senate, Mr. Sadiq Sanjrani and from the Chinese side by Mr. Song Tao, Minister of the International Department of CPC, who is a member of the Chinese Central leadership. The 3-hour long conference also had experts speaking on various issues.

H.E. Mr. Song Tao, Minister of IDCPC in his keynote speech thanked the president of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi for sending the congratulatory letter, while appreciating the consensus to take it forward. Party to party cooperation between China and Pakistan is increasing and CPEC is entering into a new era.

Senator Sadiq Sanjrani, in his keynote address, credited China for promoting regional connectivity with its landmark Belt and Road Initiative and extended Pakistan’s support to President Xi Jinping’s vision of “shared prosperity” and “win-win” cooperation of which CPEC is the practical manifestation. While appreciating President Xi Jinping’s leadership which has fulfilled the promise of “ruling for the people”, he pointed towards the role of CPC in accomplishing the first centennial goal by 2021. Lastly, he affirmed that the Senate of Pakistan shall play a greater role in engaging the consensus of different parties and delivering the political support for more cooperation between the countries under the CPEC.

Liu Qi, Leader of CPC Jiangxi Provincial Committee congratulated all the participants for the successful organisation of the second JCM of political parties on CPEC. He said that the economic cooperation between Pakistan and China is important in high quality construction of CPEC. Moreover, he announced the donation of 500,000 masked and 2000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Pakistani political parties.

Mr. Saifullah Khan Niazi, Chief Organiser of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said that this conference is a great moment that shows that all political parties are on one platform when it comes to CPEC. He also appreciated the exemplary measures taken by China during the fight against pandemic. Moreover, he reaffirmed the commitment and confidence of PTI in taking CPEC forward.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, from the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Chairman of Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, who also is founding Chairman of PCI, congratulated China on successfully combating COVID-19 through timely measures, decisive leadership and a governance system based on excellent health care facilities as well as a people centred approach and thanked China for its support to Pakistan during the COVID-19 crisis. Moreover, he said that CPEC remains uninterrupted despite the pandemic and is connecting the less developed parts of Pakistan through the Western route. It has activated Gwadar port as the hub of regional connectivity including Afghan transit trade and connectivity with Central Asia. Lastly, he said that Pakistan fully supports China in the defence of its territorial integrity and sovereignty, rejects politicising of the pandemic, appreciates China’s positive role, and rejects the notion of a new cold war. He stated that both countries support each other’s core interests and he referred to the presence in China today of a high level civil-military delegation led by the Foreign Minister.

Senator Sherry Rehman, Vice President of the Pakistan People’s Party and Chairperson of the Senate Committee on CPEC said that CPEC is the poster child of BRI and is the economic stabiliser for Pakistan. She reiterated PPP’s support to CPEC and stated that PPP is invested in the “Chinese dream”. Pakistan believes in China’s sovereign right to develop and stays firm to One-China policy. Moreover, she said that Pakistan and China share an outstanding history of cooperation. Lastly, she appreciated China for emerging as a world leader in the current crisis.

Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, Governor of Balochistan said that the year 2020 is rough and tough and China has emerged as a key player in world politics and economy. China and Pakistan are all weather friends and strategic partners and Pakistan was the first country to send medical aid to China when it was fighting COVID pandemic. Moreover, he said that western media shows its double standards when it comes to reporting of Xinjiang issue. He said that people in Xinjiang are reaping the benefits of China’s development. Moreover, he said that Balochistan is an important link of CPEC and Gwadar port will help in connecting Pakistan with Afghanistan and Central Asian countries.

H.E. Mr. Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan said that he is happy to see the COVID cases in Pakistan getting lower day by day. The resilient nature of Pakistan-China friendship and CPEC can be gauged from the fact that it survived even the COVID pandemic and has become stronger. Moreover, he said that China will always stand side by side with Pakistan in all areas of cooperation and both countries will fight the challenges like COVID together.

Mustafa Hyder Sayed, Executive Director, Pakistan-China Institute called for a ‘Health Silk Road’ in light of the pandemic and criticised double standards on China from the West.

Two videos were also played, one regarding the China’s Battle against COVID-19 and other on political consensus between parties in Pakistan and China on CPEC

At the end of the conference, a joint statement was adopted unanimously by all the participants, criticised the ‘slander’ against CPEC and said the JCM would maintain ‘strategic communication’ and build consensus amongst political parties.