ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's foreign ministry said Saturday that Chinese President Xi Jinping's first visit to the country has been postponed over the mass anti-government demonstrations shaking its capital, Islamabad.
Thousands of protesters, led by opposition politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, have been staging sit-ins outside parliament for weeks, demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down over allegations of fraud in last year's election.
On Saturday, the foreign ministry in a statement said Beijing and Islamabad "mutually agreed" to postpone the visit, which was to take place later this month. It said new dates for the visit at an early date were being discussed.
Sharif has said postponing the Chinese leader's visit would be a great loss as he was hoping for $34 billion in Chinese investment in the coming years.
The Chinese leader's visit had been in doubt since Friday, when Sharif's Twitter account posted a message saying the visit had been canceled.
Khan and Qadri have said they would greet the Chinese leaders if he traveled to Pakistan. The two men have refused to call off protest, saying they would do it only when Sharif steps down. Sharif has said he will not resign.