Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) shakes hands with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 8, 2017. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday reaffirmed China's unflinching support to Pakistan, saying Islamabad has made all-out efforts in counter-terrorism, whose conscience is clear on the subject.
Wang made the remarks after meeting with visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif in Beijing.
"For many years, Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism and an important participant in international counter-terrorism cooperation. The Pakistani government's and people's efforts and huge sacrifice on fighting terrorism are clear to all, which should be recognized by the international community. We believe Pakistan has made all-out efforts to fight terrorism and has a clear conscience. Some countries should give Pakistan a fair shake," Wang told reporters at a joint press conference.
US President Donald Trump angered Pakistan last month when he accused Islamabad of providing extremists safe haven and threatened to withhold military aid. He further raised alarm bells in Pakistan when he raised the prospect of recruiting India into the US strategy in Afghanistan, AP reported.
Wang said on Friday that terrorism is a global issue that requires coordinated efforts from various countries.
"It is better to cooperate than point fingers at each other," he said.
US officials said this week that $225 million in military aid for Pakistan has been suspended while about 3,500 additional troops will head to Afghanistan to reverse the Taliban's battleground advances and gain leverage in negotiations, AP reported.
"It's our firm view that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, and that the focus should be on a politically negotiated settlement," Asif told reporters in Beijing. "China is playing a very constructive role in this regard."
Before leaving Islamabad for Beijing on Thursday, Asif said Pakistan is "undergoing a seismic shift due to the altering regional and world situation," The Hindu reported.
Wang and Asif announced that China, Pakistan and Afghanistan will hold a new round of three-way talks later this year in China to push forward settlement negotiations with the Taliban. Asif reiterated Pakistan's support for China to host such a meeting.
Wang on Friday reaffirmed the "unbreakable friendship" between China and Pakistan.
"Pakistan has been a good brother and an iron-clad friend to China. No country understands Pakistan better than China," Wang said.
Wang also said China will continue to support Pakistan in fighting terrorism and in defending its sovereignty and national dignity.
Asif's Beijing trip came after China and other BRICS nations released a declaration on September 4 after the BRICS summit that for the first time named militant groups allegedly based in Pakistan as threats to regional security.
The declaration has sparked controversy in Pakistan as some believe it "played right into India's narrative war against Pakistan" that portrays Pakistan as a sponsor of terrorism.
"Asif's visit was scheduled before the BRICS Xiamen Summit and was mainly about Trump's Afghanistan speech, which has pressured Pakistan. The visit was not directly related to the BRICS declaration," an expert on South Asian studies, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Friday.
Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times on Friday that the three groups listed in the declaration are also considered by the Pakistani government and UN as terrorist groups.
The Pakistan Today newspaper reported that the BRICS declaration was almost the same as that of the recent Heart of Asia summit held in Amritsar, India. It quoted an unnamed Chinese official as saying that Chinese diplomats had foiled an Indian bid to target Pakistan at the BRICS Xiamen Summit by discarding around "10 pages of demands" which they wanted to be incorporated in the joint declaration.
"Pakistan has made considerable efforts in counter-terrorism. But given its strained relations with India, Pakistan, believing counter-terrorism is a domestic affair, does not want to discuss the subject in front of India to give New Delhi the opportunity to demonize Islamabad," Zhao said.
"In issues related to major national interests, China has stood and will always stand with Pakistan. China hopes to cooperate with Pakistan, and counter-terrorism is only one aspect of that cooperation," Zhao noted.