This is his second visit to China within a span of few months, which not only manifests the deep-rooted Sino-Pak friendship but also focuses the importance that Pakistan attaches region of the world

SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, Bureau Chief, Islamabad
June 26 - July 02, 2006

President General Pervez Musharraf's visit to China, primarily in response to Chinese President Hu Jintao's invitation to participate in the 6th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an observer has not only helped in further strengthening the exemplary ties between the two countries it has provided yet another opportunity for successful interact on with top leaders of the region brightening the chances of Pakistan becoming full member of SCO - most important organization of fast emerging regional powers.

Besides having one hour exclusive meeting with the Chinese President he also had separate meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Ahmedi Negad and Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the sidelines of SCO's summit besides interaction with other members states. From Shanghai, President Musharraf flew to Almaty to participate in the second summit Conference on Interaction and Confidence (CICA), which drew participation by top leaders of Russia, China and central Asian states.

A Chinese spokesman greeted President Musharraf's participation in the summit as a major step to make the organization more effective for realizing its future targets in security and economic fields. Pakistan is a promoting peace and development in the region. Pakistan has the potential of playing a key role in promoting inter-regional and intra-regional trade both within the SCO and South Asia, the Gulf and the world at large since it provides sea access to the regional states. President Musharraf's participation in the SCO summit is, therefore, of special significance both for Pakistan and other member countries of the forum, he said.

This is his second visit to China within a span of few months, which not only manifests the deep-rooted Sino-Pak friendship but also focuses the importance that Pakistan attaches to the emerging regional forum that represents the most populous region of the world. The welcome that Pakistan has been accorded by the SCO member countries represents its acceptance as full member of the forum.

Speaking at various forums in Shangahi, President General Musharraf called four full membership of the SCO organization. In a prepared speech delivered at the opening session of the summit, he called for his nation to be granted full membership of a security and economic forum that so far groups China, Russia and our Central Asian States. He said Pakistan is eager become a regular member of this organization. We hope that we can make great efforts to realize this goal. Pakistan is willing to intimately cooperate with the SCO in order to realize the group's goals and constructive contributions", he added.

Musharraf focused his remarks on promoting economic growth, stressing that the great natural resources of south and central Asia had the potential to be more closely linked. He said Pakistan would strengthen SCO;s endeavors to wards peace, security and overall harmony in the region. Besides playing a critical role in countering terrorism and extremism, Pakistan could also contribute effectively against drug and arms trafficking.

Talking to a delegation of All Chinese Federation of Industry and Commerce and select group of businessmen. President General Musharraf said Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China would be finalized this year, which will further enhance trade relations between the two countries. He said the two governments are facilitating to further enhance bilateral trade but the private sector has to come forward to play its role to promote business and investment. He said Pak-China relations are time tested and businessmen can further promote these relations, he said adding that there are tremendous opportunities to invest in Pakistan in different sectors including infrastructure, telecommunications, livestock, dairy products, food processing and energy. He urged the Chinese entrepreneurs to avail these opportunities and invest in Pakistan. He said Pakistan could work as energy corridor for China.

He said the government is developing hi-tech industrial parks in major cities and we welcome Chinese investment in these parks. He said the Karakoram Highway is there to promote trade activities between Pakistan and China. He proposed to build a rail track along the Karakoram Highway to provide another communication link for economic interaction between the two countries. Referring to Iran-Pakistan-India Gas pipeline project, Musharraf said talks are in progress and Pakistan would like to extend the pipeline to China. Pakistan can work as an energy corridor for China and it wants to expand the circle of Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project up to China, he said.

The Chinese businessmen appreciated Pakistan government's economic policies and showed keen interest to invest in Pakistan in different fields.

Speaking to intellectual, scholars and academicians of Shanghai Institute of International Studies, President Musharraf called for a strong UN system, resolution of conflicts like Kashmir and Palestine and sustained efforts against terrorism and extremism for peaceful and extremism for peaceful and prosperous future. He also underlined the need for tolerance and understanding among cultures and people and the promotion of an equitable and just economic order to seize the opportunities offered by the globalization.

After his one hour meeting with President Musharraf, Chinese President declared that China would develop Pakistan as energy corridor through Gawadar seaport. Both the leaders agreed to continue their stated position on the regional and international issues at the UN and other levels, to serve the common interests of their people. They also reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen existing partnership in all dimensions, particularly in the economic sector.

The Chinese president offered to enhance his country's support for undertaking reconstruction work in the areas that were hit by the devastating earthquake in Pakistan last year. China is prepared to help for construction of hospitals and schools in the affected region, he added. Expressing satisfaction over the pace of progress of their bilateral cooperation in the economic sector, they hoped that the negotiation between the two countries on the free trade agreement would be finalized soon.

After his meeting with President Musharraf, President Vladimir Putin has said that Russian Company Gazpron is ready to participate in plans to build the natural gas pipeline from Iran via Pakistan. Talking to reporters at Shanghai, he said that it's completely realizable projects, as Iran, Pakistan and India want it. "Gazpron is ready to help' he said. Gazpron is the leading giant company having a worldwide reputation for transmission of gas.

Addressing the second summit of Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) at Almaty resident Musharraf said. "When we talk of peace and confidence building in the Asian continent, we cannot escape the responsibility to find just solution to the long standing Palestinian and Kashmir conflict and the need to help Iraq and Afghanistan gain stability and normalcy". He noted the CICA's importance in serving as a forum for encouraging confidence building measures and said the adoption o CBMs can help manage conflict. However, the emphasized that these must pave the way or their settlement, which alone can ensure durable peace.

Referring to Pakistan-India peace process or resolution of outstanding disputes including Kashmir, the President informed the summit about the unique peace opportunity existing in South Asia. Speaking about the recent tension over Iranian nuclear issue, he welcomed the renewed diplomatic efforts to find a negotiated settlements as well as the US decision to directly engage with Iran. We have been supporting the Iran EU three dialogue and search for a diplomatic solution, especially by Russia and China", he said. He believed that peaceful resolution these of disputes implies compromise and accommodation of opposing views. On Palestine, President Musharraf informed the Asian forum t hat the establishment of a Palestinian independent State is essential to bring the Palestinian tragedy to a close and achieve durable peace in the Middle East.

"These have been the objective of all peace efforts including the Oslo peace accord, the Arab League Declaration, Quartart Peace Process and earlier UN resolution. "We must not fail in their implementation", About Afghanistan, he said Pakistan desires to see success of people and government of that country in their efforts aimed at reconciliation and rehabilitation. "We believe that stable, strong and prosperous Afghanistan is vital for regional peace and development".

In his wide-ranging address, President Musharraf described terrorism as anew and pervasive threat to peace and security that threatens the entire international community. He believed that in addition to local action to eliminate terrorist groups and individuals, it is also important to address the root causes. "Terrorism often stems from conditions where people have long been denied freedom and fundamental rights and suffer a deep sense of humiliation. International failure to resolve longstanding issues only serves to aggravate these".

President Musharraf pointed out that another danger that must be focus of international concerns is a similarly sinister phenomenon that tends to associate terrorism with religion, particularly Islam. "We must firmly reject and counter campaigns to malign Islam, which is a religion of peace, tolerance and compassion. Terrorism has no religion", he underlined.