By K.N. Pandita
China’s Asian client-state Pakistan is faced with unprecedented ire from Chinese authorities for giving room to terrorists on her soil and then exporting it to Xinjiang, or Eastern Turkistan, contiguous to PoK territory. China’s official media on Tuesday prominently highlighted Kashghar government’s statement indicting Pakistan-trained militants in violence in the city, while demanding stern action to deal with terrorism.
Commentators say this is the first time that Beijing has formally named Pakistan as source of terrorist organizations with agenda to export religion-based terror to Muslim dominated regions.
Xinjiang shares a border with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK); China blames the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for fomenting trouble in the province. This organization is based in Germany.
An English Chinese newspaper carried the editorial from a Kashghar newspaper blaming that ETIM activist were receiving training in terrorist camps in Pakistan and then infiltrating into Xinjinag clandestinely obviously after crossing the eastern border of Xinjiang with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir territory. Beijing issued a strong warning to Pakistan to stop training of ETTM.
Given the agenda of Pakistan-based but US banned Theo-fascist organizations, there is every likelihood that incursions of these terrorists and their affiliates will increase in days to come, not only in selected towns of Xinjiang but also in almost all parts of Xinjiang. The Pakistan-based Islamist organizations claim they have a strong reason to instigate the Uighur Sunnis of Xinjinag. Drastic demographic change in which the Uighur Muslims have been outnumbered by Hans Chinese is the major irritant. Moreover making the Uighur Muslim community compatible with Communist life style in Xinjiang also adds fuel to fire.
It appears that China is taking a strong notice of Pakistan giving freedom to its home-bred terror to expand fangs in China’s eastern province where it has openly said the Uighurs are receptive to subterfuge.
When clashes occurred in Khotan and elsewhere a month back, Chinese President had called President Asif Ali Zardari and alerted him against the elements of ETIM who, he emphasized, be not given any quarter in Pakistan.
This seems to have upset Pakistan civilian government. In a unique move, the Pakistani President, accompanied by the Prime Minister of Pok and the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, and additionally by his son and daughter, paid a visit to Urumqi, the capital of the disturbed province of Xinjiang. He prayed in a mosque in Urumqi on the day of Eid. This has been considered as Eid gift of Pakistan to China.
Before we proceed to unravel the purpose of this mysterious visit and especially the composition of the high powered delegation, let us remind our readers that China has been eyeing space in the Gilgit-Baltistan region under illegal occupation of Pakistan. Building of Karakorum Highway over tortuous Karakorum Mountains, indeed a marvel of engineering, was the first indication how seriously Beijing considered the region to her strategy in the Eastern province. Pakistan has already ceded over five thousand square kilometers of Siachen area to China to facilitate connectivity to Tibet.
Early this year reports came in that China had sent more than 17,000 troops of PLA into Gilgit-Baltistan. China and Pakistan both publicized it as workers engaged in infrastructure building in the region. Of course, Beijing did give out some of the main plans of providing infrastructure in the area.
But observers have not minced words in explaining that China has been converting the Karakorum Highway into a strategic link and dotting it with missile bases aimed at Indian strategic installations and right up to the Gulf area where the western countries have significant naval presence.
Neither the administration of Gilgit-Baltistan area nor of PoK has issued a word of protest against the inroads of Chinese troops into their territory. Obviously, China wants to have a strong role in Afghan crisis and the connectivity gives her the facility to monitor the situation in Af-Pak region from very close quarters.
There has not been any direct reaction either from Washington or from Moscow to this strategic move of China in the foothills of the Karakorum, the Pamirs and the Hindu Kush. The US is bogged with inconclusive war in Afghanistan, and Moscow studies the situation by juxtaposing it to what is obtainable in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, two countries contiguous to Gilgit-Baltistan region.
Reverting to Pak President’s visit to Urumqi, this is the first time that a Pakistani President has visited the place which has caused much irritation between his country and its bosses in Beijing.
More significant are two things; one is that the President is accompanied by the PM of PoK and the CM of Gilgit-Baltistan. This is something very interesting as none of them visited the region earlier in their official capacity.
The PoK Prime Minister has been given a proper visa by the Chinese and not a visa on a separate sheet of paper as they are doing with Kashmiris. This means that Beijing has formally recognized PoK as part of Pakistan and not a separate entity. This de-recognizes PoK’s claim that the struggle in Kashmir Valley is for independence of entire pre-1947 State. At the same time it not only neutralizes but makes the Kashmir valley so – called freedom movement meaningless and irrelevant. Chinese visa to PoK Prime Minster is forthright acceptance of division of J&K along the LoC which was the real purport of Shimla Agreement.
Carrying the PM of PoK and the CM of Gilgit-Baltistan with him to Xinjiang and offering a prayer in an Urumqi mosque reflects a shrewd and double- edged move by the Pakistan President. It means to assure the Chinese authorities that the heads of the government of the region wherefrom they suspect ETIM training and infiltration are committed to curb these anti-China activities. In other words the President wanted the Chinese authorities to elicit an undertaking from both that they would ensure no violation of Chinese territories and no fomenting of communal and ethnic disturbances in Xinjiang is allowed to flourish on their native soil.
Secondly, this is an indirect hint to the Uighur Muslims of Xinjinag that Pakistan is not unconcerned about their problems and plight like demographic change, suppression of freedom of faith, discrimination and other debilities. It depends on how the Chinese take the visit in its totality.
However, in conclusion one or two inferences merit clarification. By the gimmicks of Pak President’s visit in accompaniment of two henchmen is not going to be taken very seriously by the Chinese. Beijing knows the limitations of the Government in Islamabad and Beijing also knows the prime motivators behind the terrorist groups in Pakistan like LeT or JM or TTP. At the same time Beijing knows or should know that these ultras are not going to show any relent in their mission of fomenting widespread disturbance in Xinjiang on religious count and thus pave the way for what they visualize the Caliphate from the Dardanelles to the Straits of Malacca. Beijing will have to re-think her entire relationship with Pakistan.