BEIJING (TIP): Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif will attend the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leader’s Meeting in Beijing next week as an observer on the invitation of Chinese president Xi Jinping. Xi had also invited India to be an observer and requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend it during his talks in New Delhi last September. But India has not taken up the offer. Sharif may have a difficult time convincing Chinese leaders that he was doing his best to check the influence of Pakistan based Taliban in China’s western province of Xinjiang, which is a hotbed of terrorism by Islamic groups.
Violent incidents in Xinjiang, particularly the Kashgar area bordering Pakistan, has risen sharply in the past few months leading to suspicion that Islamabad is not keeping its promise on this count. “The visit will further strengthen the bilateral relations,” Radio Pakistan quoted Sharif as saying before leaving Islamabad for China on Friday. He expects to meet both Xi and Chinese premier Li Keqiang and sign agreements for investments, Sharif said. Chinese leaders would be busy meeting heads of state from at least 21 countries during the APEC summit. It is not clear how much time they can spare for the Pakistani president. Pakistan is seeking Chinese assistance for further development of the Gwadar Port in southwestern Balochistan province. Sharif will also seek Chinese funds and technical assistance for construction of Khuzdar- Gwadar road as part of planned economic corridor between the two countries.