Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is due to arrive in Pakistan today to “reinforce the strategic partnership” between the two allies.
Li will not only be given a red carpet welcome on the ground, but also in the air: a squad of six JF-17 fighter jets, jointly produced by Pakistan and China, will escort his plane the moment it enters Pakistani air space.
This would be Li’s first trip to Pakistan since taking office in March, and makes him the first foreign head of government to travel to the country following the historic democratic transition that saw an electoral victory for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
Once he arrives, Prime Minister Keqiang will meet President Asif Ali Zardari and interim Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso. Li will also have a one-on-one meeting with Nawaz Sharif, who is widely expected to be the next prime minister, a foreign ministry official told The Express Tribune.
The two-time former premier will specially travel to Islamabad for this purpose on Thursday, taking time out from his hectic engagements in Lahore, where he is busy in the formation of his government, both in the Centre and Punjab.
A close aide of the PML-N chief said Nawaz will seek to further cement relations with China. “His focus will be on enhancing economic and trade cooperation,” he added.