A Foreign Office statement says new dates for official visit are currently being discussed.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office, in an official statement, confirmed on Saturday that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s scheduled visit to Pakistan would be postponed to an unspecified later date.
“In view of the current political situation in Pakistan, the governments of China and Pakistan have mutually agreed to the postponement of the state visit of Xi Jinping, president of China, to Pakistan,” said the notification, adding, “New dates for the president’s visit to Pakistan, at an early date, are being discussed through diplomatic channels.”
While neither the Foreign Office, nor Chinese authorities, confirmed the reason for the postponement, analysts claim it was likely linked to the ongoing unrest in Pakistan’s federal capital. Anti-government protesters, led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Imran Khan and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s Tahir-ul-Qadri have been protesting in Islamabad since Aug. 15 and have pledged to continue their sit-ins until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns. At least three people have been killed in clashes between police and protesters.
In a series of tit-for-tat statements, a federal minister has claimed the protesters have cost Pakistan billions due to the delayed visit, while PAT and PTI claim the government is at fault. Federal minister Ahsan Iqbal claimed on Twitter that the protesters’ actions had “ruined” a year’s worth of efforts to secure development projects worth “billions.” However, Khan told his supporters that they would ensure the Chinese president’s trip would not be hindered. Qadri, meanwhile, claimed that the visit had been postponed because Chinese security officials realized that if “the government can’t even provide security to its own citizens, how can it provide it to the Chinese president?” The PAT chief was referring to news reports that Chinese officials had discouraged President Xi Jinping from visiting Pakistan due to security concerns.
According to the Foreign Office, the delayed visit would still occur as soon as possible. “Both sides attach high importance to the visit of President Xi Jinping to Pakistan, as early as possible, for promoting mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries,” it added.