SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-Chinese President Xi Jiping has postponed his first state visit to Pakistan due to the anti-government protests taking place in Islamabad, two countries’ foreign ministries have confirmed.
“In view of the current political situation in Pakistan, the governments of China and Pakistan have mutually agreed to postponement of the state visit of HE Xi Jinping, president of China, to Pakistan, which was scheduled to take place later this month,” the Pakistan foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
Diplomats from both countries are discussing new dates for the visit with no formal announcement on set dates yet.
China’s foreign affairs ministry said that new dates were being finalised “through diplomatic channels”.
“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,” it said in a statement.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told parliament in Islamabad that he had expected such news, as the presidents of Sri Lanka and the Maldives have already cancelled their visits due to the ongoing protests.
Meanwhile, Pakistani opposition groups resumed talks with the government aimed at resolving the political crisis. The talks remain deadlocked over demands for Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation.
The latest talks come after days of clashes between the police and anti-government protesters which have left at least three dead and hundreds injured.
The Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) party of former cricketer Imran Khan, who has been leading the protests along with populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, claims that the 2013 general election which swept Sharif to power was heavily rigged.
The country’s powerful military chief, Raheel Sharif, held talks with the prime minister earlier this week, but no statement was issued after the meeting. The military issued a statement denying that the army chief asked Sharif to resign as prime minister.