Chinese premier Wen Jiabao praises Pakistan`s terror fight

Wen Jiabao is 1st Chinese leader to address joint sitting of Pak Parliament.

Islamabad: Pakistan`s sacrifices in the global fight against terrorism should be recognized and respected by the international community, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told lawmakers in Islamabad on Sunday.

Wen was addressing a joint session of Pakistan`s National Assembly on the final day of a state visit that mainly focused on trade and business ties between the longtime Asian allies.

During the three-day visit, the two sides agreed to 35 new pacts expected to bring up to $30 billion dollars of investment to Pakistan over the next five years.

"Pakistan was at the front of the international fight against terrorism and made big sacrifices and important contributions, which were obvious to all," Wen told lawmakers. "The international community should affirm that and give great support as well as respect the path of development chosen by Pakistan."

He said the fight against terrorism should not focus on specific religions or ethnic groups, but rather on eradicating the "root factors breeding terrorism."

Pakistan`s tribal regions are home to thousands of militants staging or supporting attacks at home and on US and other allied troops in neighboring Afghanistan. Islamabad`s cooperation is seen as vital to the fight against terrorism and to stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan.

Pakistan`s military has launched several offensives in the country`s remote northwest where the insurgents are based, but Islamabad still comes under criticism in the West for not doing enough to stamp out the threat.

Much of the criticism is centered on the military`s reluctance to move into North Waziristan, which is effectively under the control of a mix of Taliban, al Qaeda and affiliated groups. Critics also question whether the country has severed its links with militants who stage attacks in India, Pakistan`s neighbor and rival.

The threat posed by militants in Pakistan is a growing concern for China given that the two share a common border. China also is dealing with its own Muslim separatist movement.

The speech to Pakistan`s parliament was the first by a Chinese leader.

China is Pakistan`s closest friend in Asia, giving Islamabad military aid and technical assistance, including nuclear technology. Crucially, most Pakistanis view China as an ally that, unlike Washington, doesn`t make demands in return for its assistance.

But Beijing is hardly left empty-handed from its ties with Pakistan, which serves as China`s gateway to the Muslim world and is a cheap source of natural resources to fuel its growing economy.

Bureau Report