Urumqi, 23 August 2023 (TDI): In a meeting, former Federal Minister Professor Ahsan Iqbal, accompanied by Senator Mahmood-ul-Hassan and officials from the Pakistani Embassy in China, engaged in discussions on August 20 with Ma Xingrui, a senior member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and other officials from the Xinjiang Uyghurs Autonomous Region.

Ma Xingrui underscored the deep-rooted partnership between China and Pakistan, echoing President Xi Jinping’s commitment to bolstering their collaboration.

He commended Ahsan Iqbal’s instrumental role in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and expressed aspirations to elevate CPEC as a flagship project within the Belt and Road Initiative.

Professor Iqbal lauded the remarkable industrial growth and economic strides made by the CPC in Xinjiang.

He emphasized Xinjiang’s strategic position as a “gateway” to Pakistan and proposed the establishment of a Border Market across the Khunjrab Pass to foster trade and development between the two nations.

He further envisioned connecting Xinjiang with Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Gwadar through road and railway networks, offering Xinjiang a direct route to the seaport.

Highlighting the significance of the CPEC project, Professor Iqbal stated, “Strong links between Xinjiang and Gilgit-Baltistan are vital for the success of CPEC.” He also advocated for exchange programs between Xinjiang and GB universities to foster youth engagement.

Moreover, Senator Mahmood-ul-Hassan proposed streamlining customs clearance procedures and emphasized the need for enhanced cooperation in the agriculture and livestock sectors.

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In response, Party Secretary Ma Xingrui endorsed the idea of a border market at the Pak-China border and formed a team to finalize details.

Both parties concurred on establishing a Joint Working Group to devise a comprehensive Collaboration Plan, focusing on trade, development, investment, and connectivity. The plan also aims to fortify cultural and educational exchanges between GB and Xinjiang.

The meeting concluded with an invitation extended to Party Secretary Ma Xingrui to undertake a visit to Pakistan, which he graciously accepted.