For the first time, China has come out openly backing Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence saying the spy agency could not have been involved in the recent attack on an Indian consulate in Afghanistan. China's newly appointed special envoy Sun Yuxi said the ISI was playing a lead role in fighting terrorists.
"I think as an agency for the government and military for Pakistan, the ISI has been effective in fighting against terrorism," Sun told journalist a day before leaving for Kabul on his new assignment.
Indian and Afghan officials suspect ISI elements had instigated local terrorists to carry out the May 23 attack on the Indian consulate in Herat, Afghanistan.
"As for the specific [Herat] case, I have not been following regional developments for some time but I do believe that the Pakistan government or any responsible agency of Pakistan will only fight against terrorism instead of being involved with any terrorist groups” Sun said.
The statement indicates China might work closely with the ISI in its peace mission in Afghanistan, for which Sun has been chosen. The special envoy said his tasks include talking with India and Pakistan for organisation of joint efforts towards building peace and bringing about reconstruction in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has pointedly blamed Lashkar-e-Tayiba, a terrorist group which has earlier carried out attacks on India, for the raid on the Indian consulate in Herat.
“As special envoy, I will keep a close working relationship with counterparts from India and Pakistan so as to contribute to peace and fighting terrorism,” Sun, a former ambassador to India and Afghanistan, said. He said he has 14 years experience dealing with Afghanistan, which includes his role handling the issue in the foreign ministry in Beijing.
He is due to visit Islamabad and meet Pakistani leaders on his way back to Beijing after visiting Kabul. He expressed the hope India and Pakistan will work together along with China to quell trouble in Afghanistan.
“I want to tell my colleagues from India and Pakistan that I know that both countries are making efforts to safeguard peace and stability and helping Afghanistan with reconstruction,” he said.
China's decision to appoint a special envoy apart from its regular ambassador in Kabul comes amid fears of a spurt in terrorist activities after the planned withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. China is particularly worried about a spill over of terrorists across the border in its Xinjiang region, which is a hotbed of a separatist movement by a section of Muslim Uyghurs.