China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday praised Pakistan as a firm partner against terror and religious extremism, playing down the risk that ties could be strained by an attack that Chinese officials blamed on militants trained in Pakistan.
The ministry’s statement was its first response to the attack in Kashgar city in China’s far western Xinjiang region on Sunday, when a group of Uighur men killed a restaurant owner and waiter, and then hacked to death four people.
The Kashgar government said the attack was organised by members of the separatist “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” who received arms and explosives training in Pakistan.
But the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said his government stood by Pakistan, in comments apparently intended to quash any notion of a rift over the attack in Xinjiang, where members of the Uighur minority have protested against Beijing’s control and the Han Chinese presence.
“Pakistan has made an outstanding contribution to battling terrorism,” Ma said in a statement on the ministry’s website. Ma did not mention the Xinjiang attack in his comments.
On Monday, the Pakistani foreign ministry issued a statement offering “full support” to China after the attack. Pakistan shares a border with China, and Uighurs, including opponents of Chinese rule, have fled there in the past.
Analysts have said that the role of any militant members of the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” in the attack is unclear, especially because the group appears so weak.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2011.