Pakistan PM seeks more investment from Beijing
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday during an official visit to Beijing focused on courting Chinese investment in his country's ailing transport and electricity generating sectors. The visit is Mr Sharif's first to his country's close ally since he returned to power last month. The nations cooperate closely in diplomatic and military affairs, and share a common rival in mutual neighbour India.

Mr Sharif said he chose China for his first overseas visit to strengthen and develop friendly neighbourly ties between the two countries, according to Chinese state television. Pakistan hopes to expand economic exchanges, especially in developing basic infrastructure, and welcomes Chinese businesses to invest there, he added. Mr Sharif's visit follows one by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Pakistan in May.

Mr Sharif is hoping to attract greater Chinese investment to revive Pakistan's moribund economy that has pushed the country to accept a fresh International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout. An earlier, partially disbursed US$11.3 billion (S$14.4 billion) IMF programme expired in September 2011 after Pakistan failed to meet the conditions attached to it.

Pakistan hopes to boost its economy by building rail and road links linking the Chinese border to the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar, control of which was transferred to a state-owned Chinese company in February.

The country is also seeking Chinese help in overcoming a chronic energy shortage, while China wants Pakistan to crack down on insurgents from China's Muslim Uighur minority who have taken refuge in Pakistan's lawless north-west alongside Al Qaeda-linked extremists. Pakistan says it has killed or extradited several of those militants over the past few years, but acknowledges that some still remain at large in the area.

China provides Pakistan with aid and foreign investment, while Islamabad offers Beijing important diplomatic backing in the face of Muslim-majority nations who might otherwise criticise China's handling of its Muslim population. Pakistan has viewed China as an important counterweight to the United States, which provides valuable aid but often pressures Islamabad to do more to crack down on Islamic militants. The two countries have also been close because of their mutual distrust of their common neighbour India.
Posted by: Pappy 2013-07-05