Pakistan on Thursday accorded a grand welcome to Chinese President Hu Jintao when he arrived in Islamabad on a three-day visit from India, with expectations to clinch a strategic tie-up with China to offset the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.
Doing away with protocol, Hu was received at the airport by President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Deputy High Commissioner of India T C A Raghavan.
This usually is a courtesy Pakistan has extended only to Saudi royalty in the past.
The Chinese leader's arrival at the airport was telecast live by the state TV.
All the routes through which Hu's convoy passed were bedecked with flowers and special lighting.
People lined up both sides of the road and cheered the Chinese leader with slogans of Pak-China friendship.
This was in contrast to the sedate welcome US President George W Bush received when he visited Islamabad in March this year.
Hu has a packed agenda during his visit, which includes talks with Musharraf, who China regards as one of its closest allies.
Hu would address the people of Pakistan over TV and radio from the conference hall in Islamabad on Friday.
To mark his visit, the two countries hope to finalise a host of agreements, including a Free Trade Agreement, a nearly $1 billon deal to upgrade the highway through the Karakurram mountains connecting the two countries and MoUs relating to Chinese investment worth $5 billion in Pakistan during the next five years.