Chinese Leader Addresses Pakistan Parliament

China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (C) waves as his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani (2nd L) applauds after Wen's arrival to the joint sessions of the National Assembly and Senate in Islamabad, 19 Dec 2010

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says the international community should recognize and respect Pakistan's sacrifices in the global war against terrorism. He made the comments while addressing Pakistan's parliament on Sunday to end his 3-day visit to Islamabad.

Boosting bilateral trade and investment with Pakistan has been the main focus of Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

The two governments have signed 12 commercial and trade deals to bring about $25 billion in Chinese investment to Pakistan within the next three years.

China is Pakistan's main supplier of defense and military hardware. Beijing has also helped its South Asian neighbor build its main nuclear power generation facility and is helping build another one.

Following his extensive talks with Pakistan's political and military leaders, Premier Wen addressed a special meeting of parliament Sunday. In his speech, he praised Pakistan for what he called its "big sacrifices and important contributions" as a frontline state in the fight against terrorism.

Premier Wen said that Pakistan has rendered invaluable sacrifices in the war against terrorism, and that the international community should respect these efforts. He said the global fight should not focus on specific religions, but rather on eradicating the root causes that breed terrorism. The Chinese leader did not elaborate.

His comments came just days after the United States unveiled its annual review of the war strategy in Afghanistan, in which Washington urged Pakistan, its close ally, to do more to dismantle terrorist bases along the Afghan border.

Pakistan has dismissed the criticism, saying it has done enough to fight extremism. It says the human and economic losses it has suffered in the past nine years are far bigger than any other nation engaged in the global anti-terror efforts.

Prominent Pakistani political commentator Mushahid Hussain called Premier Wen's praise for Pakistan's anti-terrorism efforts "a breath of fresh air" because it endorses Islamabad's point of view.

"Because contrary to other views that have emanated from New Delhi, Washington, Paris, Berlin or London, Mr. Wen Jiabao was saying that, look here, Pakistan has made the biggest sacrifices, the major contributions in the campaign against terrorism, China appreciates that and Pakistan is being wrongfully pressured on this count," said Hussain. "So [he] basically upheld Pakistan's position and endorsed Pakistan's pivotal role in this regard."

U.S. officials consider parts of Pakistan's porous border with Afghanistan the epicenter of global terrorism, being used for deadly cross-border attacks on Afghan and international troops.

The United States and Pakistan's other Western allies see the country as a vital ally in the war against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. But alleged ties between the main Pakistani intelligence agency and Islamic militants involved in cross-border attacks on U.S.-led forces have often raised questions about Islamabad's anti-terror efforts.

U.S. officials say they believe Pakistani intelligence agents may have exposed the identity of the CIA's chief officer stationed in Pakistan. Washington pulled Jonathan Banks out of the country last week, citing threats to his life. But senior officials of the Pakistani spy agency have dismissed the allegations as baseless, describing working relations with the CIA in their joint counter-insurgency campaign as excellent.