Uighur militants eliminated from Pakistani territory: Asif

Defence minister says it is just as much in Pakistan's interests as China's to fight Uighur militants


Reuters October 18, 2015
PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING: Pakistan has eliminated all members of the Uighur group of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) from its territory, but must remain vigilant to ensure they don't return, the country's defence minister said in Beijing on Sunday.

China blames ETIM for carrying out attacks in its far western region of Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people, although many foreign experts doubt the group's existence in a cohesive group.

Read: Pakistan says 'almost all' Uighur militants eliminated

China, Pakistan's only major ally in the region, has long urged Islamabad to weed out what it says are militants from Xinjiang, who are holed up in a lawless tribal belt, home to a lethal mix of militant groups, including the Taliban and al Qaeda.

"We believe they're all eliminated," Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told reporters on the sidelines of a security forum.

"I think there (were) a small number in tribal areas, they're all gone or eliminated. There are no more there."

It is just as much in Pakistan's interests as China's to fight Uighur militants, Asif said, denying there was any difference of opinion between Beijing and Islamabad on Pakistan's efforts to tackle the problem.

Read: Progress: CPEC hailed as key to the future

"The fight against ETIM is our own fight. It's not only China's fight. It's a joint fight against ETIM, between Pakistan and China, so there is absolutely no difference of opinion on the elimination of ETIM from our tribal areas," he added.

"We have to be vigilant for a long time that this menace, this infection, does not return."

Some Xinjiang government officials have said they believe Pakistan is not doing enough to prevent Uighurs from travelling there to become radicalised.

Hundreds have died in unrest in Xinjiang in the past few years. Exiles and activists say Chinese controls on the religion and culture of the Uighur people is more a cause of the violence than well-organised militant groups.

Read: China advises Pakistan, India to practice restraint on border

China and Pakistan call each other "all-weather friends" and their close ties have been underpinned by long-standing wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to hedge against US influence across the region.

China and Pakistan are getting ready to finalise a deal for China to sell eight submarines to Pakistan, Asif said, in what could be one of China's largest overseas weapons sales once it is signed.

"It's moving smoothly, it's going ahead," he said. "We are at the final stage. I think it won't take very long."

COMMENTS (8)

faisal | 6 years ago | Reply The two nation theory doesn't say we interfere in other countries. However, Pakistan should press China to be a bit more humane towards its muslim population and safeguard some of their rights.
Woz Ahmed | 6 years ago | Reply Good move, but in return we should have demanded Muslims be able to fast and celebrate Ramadan and wear the hajib etc.
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