Editor’s note: The writer is Director of Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, Pakistan. The article reflects the author’s opinions.
Shahbaz Sharif took oath as the new head of government on 12th April as the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan at a ceremony where Sadiq Sanjrani, acting President and Chairman Senate of Pakistan administered the oath. While speaking to the parliament, new Prime Minister said that his government would speed up the high-quality construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, making it a symbol of China-Pakistan friendship.
CPEC lives in the heart of the people of Pakistan where no matter who rules the country, CPEC will remain at the top priority. Due to this fate-changing China-Pakistan cooperation on CPEC, the life of Pakistani people, especially at grassroots level, has been not only improved but transformed towards a better direction. The entire political spectrum including the leading political parties has a strong consensus for standing together on CPEC.
While reacting on the new appointment, China appreciates the new Prime Minister’s remarks and is ready to work with Pakistan to continue to further advance the high-quality development of CPEC.
There is an urge to practically expand the bilateral cooperation and build CPEC together for shared benefits. There is also a desire from both sides to accelerate the building of closer China-Pakistan ties to create a community of shared future in this new era and work together to promote the well-being of the two peoples.
At the advent of CPEC in 2015, Pakistan Muslim League (N) was ruling in Islamabad with the vast majority. During the reign of Nawaz Sharif, many long-term communications and energy projects under CPEC made huge progress. It is also important to note that when Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was Chief Minister of Punjab, a province with a solid industrial and agriculture base, he worked on CPEC projects at phenomenal speed. There is an expectation that this time he will deliver at the national level with the same enthusiasm and speed.
CPEC has been so entrenched in the national roots of Pakistan that no government can change it. It is a state-to-state strong partnership. Government and people’s representation may change at the national level, and there may be slight changes in the ways of implementation; however, the basic normative model and structures will remain the same. CPEC holds a strong ground for the essential cooperation between Pakistan and China.
Over all these years, the defining moments in the history of relations helped both sides thwart the test of times with grounded support through prudence and foresightedness shared by Beijing and Islamabad. Our ancestors’ seeds of friendship sowed more than decades ago have evolved into a perfectly developed tree with many branches of benevolence and fruits growing all around. The roots are vivid in our hearts and on our lands.
Pakistan-China relations are based on the strength of the shared belief in peace and prosperity and beyond any politics or change of governments. The level of relationship that both Pakistan and China enjoy is beyond time and space, having the strength and resilience to face and battle any storm together.
CPEC is the epitome of the China-Pakistan relations and is considered as a model for the other countries to follow. With the change of government in Pakistan, there would not be any change in the level of friendship. Instead, it will grow manifold.
The only constant change is the stronger Pakistan-China ties. Over these years, there has been a constant pattern of strengthening resolve to build closer ties with China by all kinds of ideological regimes in Pakistan. In Pakistan’s chequered history of democracy, China has always remained a source of strength and inspiration.
With the multibillion-dollar CPEC in the extraordinary second phase that focuses on agriculture, industry, and socio-economic development, Pakistan has a bright and robust future. The incumbent government will continue to focus on these projects and build and further capitalize on them to bring peace and prosperity to the country.
Muhammad Asif Noor, the writer is Founder Director- Center for BRI and China Studies and Founder Friends of BRI Forum- Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies.