Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was left embarrassed yet again as he left the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang alone to be introduced to the Pakistani delegation. In a video accessed by Republic, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff Qamar Bajwa can be seen gesturing Khan to accompany the Chinese Premier instead of standing aloof. Incidentally, this is not the first time that the Pakistan PM has shown blatant disregard for basic diplomatic courtesies. Earlier, at the opening ceremony of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in June 2019, Imran Khan kept sitting, unlike all others who stood up when the Heads of other countries entered the hall. Similarly, he was accused of insulting the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz, during the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit earlier this year. The Pakistan PM spoke to the Saudi King's interpreter and walked off before the message could be translated for the latter, who was left standing alone.
Even before Khan arrived in China for an official visit, Bajwa was already present to meet the military leadership. While he separately called on Xu Qiliang, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, he was also a part of all key political meetings, that are normally supposed to be the prerogative of the Pakistan PM. He was not only present in Khan’s meeting with the Chinese Premier but is also expected to accompany him in his engagements with Chinese President Xi Jinping and National People's Congress (NPC) chairman Li Zhanshu. Notably, the role of Pakistan’s Army Chief has come under the scanner in recent times. A week ago, he chaired the meeting of top businessmen, who wanted a solution to their problems. Moreover, the Pakistani government extended his tenure by three years. Last year, most of the Opposition parties in Pakistan accused the military establishment of allegedly rigging the General elections to ensure Khan’s victory. Subsequently, key opposition leaders including former PMs Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi have been imprisoned.
As most of the CPEC projects have been stalled due to the prevailing fear among Pakistan’s bureaucracy of action being taken by the National Accountability Bureau, Khan has a big task to convince China of his country’s credibility. The other big concern for India’s western neighbour is to avoid being placed on the Black List by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Its meeting will take place from October 13 to October 18. Islamabad is trying hard to lobby hard with China, which holds the presidency of the FATF this year.