Beijing: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who is on a visit to China, on Friday said friendship and strategic cooperation between the two countries is vital for regional as well as global peace and security.

Praising China’s flood relief assistance to Pakistan Gilani said, “Pictures of Chinese rescue and medical teams, working day and night in the mountains of Azad Kashmir (POK) and the delta region of the mighty Indus in full fury, helping their Pakistani brothers and sisters, have become indelible in the minds and hearts of our people.”

He was speaking at a reception to commemorate 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between two countries here on Thursday night.

Gilani praised former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Chinese leaders Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai for the crafting the Pakistan-China friendship.

“They were the ones who visualized and, indeed, grasped the essence of threads of history...gave a brilliant new context to the relations” between two countries, Pakistan official APP news agency quoted him as saying.

He said the friendship and strategic partnership between the two countries is an indispensable and critical factor in ensuring regional and global peace and security.

Apparently referring to China taking up with US Pakistan's concerns over violation of its sovereignty in commando raid to kill bin Laden Gilani said, “we also acknowledge, with gratitude, the support that China has extended to Pakistan in our efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and Pakistan's core national interests.”

“Once again, in these troubled times, we collectively face new challenges with the firm conviction in our belief that truth and justice will prevail,” he said, adding that in these turbulent times, the “only voice of reason in international affairs is that of China.”

“From the friendship highway, called the Karakoram Highway in the North to the Gwadar deep seaport in the South, all major economic projects in Pakistan were built with Chinese assistance,” he said.

“Even today, hundreds of Chinese corporations and thousands of Chinese men and women are working tirelessly together with the Pakistani brothers and sisters on major economic and development projects. For all this, we are truly grateful,” he said.

The Free Trade Agreement, Joint Five Year Economic and Trade Programme, the Joint Investment Company, the ongoing cooperation in the financial and banking sectors, greater interaction between capital markets, robust defence and defence production cooperation are few examples of the direction that their strategic cooperative partnership has
taken, he said.

Pakistan and China are determined to take all necessary measures for closer economic integration, he said.    

Expanding educational contacts will undoubtedly contribute to further cementing our mutually beneficial all dimensional partnership, he said.

For its part Pakistan will always and, under all circumstances, support and defend the just cause and core interests  of the Chinese nation - be it Taiwan or Tibet or the struggle against the East Turkistan Independence Movement, (ETIM) active in China's Uyghur Muslim majority Xinjiang province, he said.

Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee (CPPCC) Jia Qinglin who took part in the reception said Pakistan and China have developed a high quality strategic partnership.

He said the government and people of Pakistan have always stood with China in difficult hour and recalled it was Pakistan which provided air corridor to China in 1950s and 60s.

Jia also recalled and hailed the support of Pakistan to China for its right for UNSC seat.

He said as the two countries enjoy deep rooted, historic and strategic partnership, no matter how the international situation changes China will never sway from its support to Pakistan.

Gilani is on a four day visit to China take part in the event marking 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

(Agencies)