Recalling that Pak-China friendship was the outcome of centuries of people-to-people contacts, Prime Minister LI Keqiang, in his address before the Senate, said that it had been fostered and nurtured by generations after generations. And it was that spirit with which the two countries were imbued to work together, “shoulder to shoulder” in achieving their goal of progress and prosperity. He extended help and assistance to Pakistan in every conceivable field it asked for: strategic, energy, science and technology, agriculture, etc. A total of 12 agreements were signed during the visit. At the same time, Mr Li remarked that Pakistan’s support to China was vital for the development of his country, recalling the first PIA flight that landed in China in 1960. That was an unforgettable experience as that provided the Chinese with an air route. To help take mutual cooperation in trade further, Premier Li observed that work on the development and utilisation of the Karakorum Highway would have to be speeded up. Efforts would continue to promote the Chinese language in Pakistan and China would send as many as 1,000 teachers for the purpose. On the other hand, he asked Pakistan to help the Chinese in learning Urdu. While praising Islamabad as an important player in Asian and international affairs, he particularly mentioned its efforts in bringing peace and stability in the region and the world.

Mr Li’s address was unique in its effusiveness of offer to develop Pakistan and help it get out of the multiple crises it is confronted with. Needless to say, it has been a source of great solace and comfort to the nation that is caught in the whirlwind of problems and, of course, the incoming leadership that faces the awesome challenge. Mian Nawaz Sharif had a one-to-one meeting with Premier Li in which Pakistan’s future PM assured him that soon the economic and commercial exchanges would pick up. It is noteworthy that during the last year Pakistan’s exports to China shot up by 50 percent over the previous year; the volume of bilateral trade stood at $12 billion. Hopefully, it would go up to $15 billion in the coming two to three years. Mian Nawaz sought civilian nuclear technology to help tide over power shortages, on the pattern of the one the US has granted to India.

The visit once again highlights the point that Pakistan can rely on China in any eventuality and expect Beijing to extend support without any strings attached, underlining the singular nature of equation that requires to be strengthened with increased contacts. We are certain that when Mian Nawaz, whom Mr Li invited to visit his country, goes to China, the friendship would touch greater heights.