China on Friday said that the Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification from public office would not affect Islamabad and Beijing’s bilateral ties or the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang, while reacting to news of the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case, said during a press briefing: “We believe that the China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership will not be affected by the change of the situation inside Pakistan. China stands ready to work with Pakistan to continue jointly building the [One] Belt and [One] Road.”
Terming the court’s ruling ─ and subsequent denotification of the prime minister ─ an “internal affair of Pakistan”, China expressed hope that various parties and sections in Pakistan could “prioritise state and national interests, properly deal with their domestic affairs, maintain unity and stability, and keep focusing on the economic and social development.”
The all-weather friendship between China and Pakistan has withstood the test of times, Kang added.
The judgement brings Sharif’s third term in power to an unceremonious end, roughly one year before the scheduled general elections which would have seen him become the first prime minister to complete a full five-year term.
It is unclear at the moment who will be appointed to take over the post till the next general elections, which are scheduled for 2018. Speculation is rife, however, that Nawaz has suggested his brother and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif be the party’s contender for the post.