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Take action against Uighur militants: China to Pak

June 01, 2012 21:53 IST

After the United States and Afghanistan, now it's the Chinese government who has asked Pakistan to take action against foreign militants hiding in the tribal areas of the country. Tahir Ali reports

Pakistani tribal areas are blamed for harboring militants from all around the world. In a recent development, Beijing has asked Islamabad to take measure to control Chinese militants' activities present in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Chinese militants are active in their struggle under the banner of East Turkistan Islamic Movement in the province of Xinjiang.

According to a BBC's report, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi during his recent visit to Pakistan said that it was their belief that militants belonging to the TIM are influencing the Chinese province Xinjiang, which has a Muslim majority population.

Xinjiang, which is home to the Uighur Muslims, has faced increased terrorist activities in recent years, inviting a crackdown by Chinese forces. The restive province, which shares a border with Pakistan has been under heavy security since July 2009, when the Uyghur launched attacks on Han people in the regional capital Urumqi.

The Chinese Uyghur is a banned group actively operating in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China.

Sources within the Chinese foreign ministry have reportedly revealed that Chinese officials discussed the matter with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari along with other officials during several meetings, where the Pakistani foreign secretary was also summoned.

China has alleged that most of those belonging to the TIM have taken refuge in Pakistan's tribal areas, from where they cross the border into China after receiving training.

According to a report, Abdul Shakoor Turkistani, a Chinese Uyghur, is currently leading Chinese militants in the tribal areas of Pakistan. He has very good relations with all Pakistani Taliban factions.

According to tribal sources Turkistani played a key role in the formation of the Itehad-e-Shur-e-Mujahideen in 2009. This group urged fighting especially in Afghanistan against the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces.

Previously Turkistani worked under Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, a former leader of the Eastern Turkistani Islamic Party, and the slain Qari Tahir Jan Yuldashev of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. He belongs to the Chinese Uyghur, a banned group actively operating in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China.

Pakistani Taliban having a rivalry with China due to Beijing's action against the member of TIM. Taliban never spare an opportunity to attack Chinese in Pakistan.  

In March 2012, the Taliban killed a Chinese woman who was visiting a market in Peshawar. Taliban spokesperson Muhammad Afridi, while giving reason for the murdered, had said that Taliban have killed the Chinese tourist due to China's anti-mujahedeen stance.

He demanded that China should halt what he called its support for the Pakistani government's campaign against militants. Taliban also blames that it was China that ordered Lal Masjid raid in 2007.

In another case Long Xiao Wei and Zhang Guo who were working for a Chinese telecommunication company in Khal area of Upper Dir district were kidnapped by the Taliban in September 2008, and later they were shifted to Swat.

The Maulana Fazlullah-led Swat Taliban demanded release of their 136 prisoners and a huge amount as ransom money in exchange for the two Chinese hostages but the Pakistan government refused to make a deal with them.

Zhang Guo managed to escape and took refuge at the house of a landlord, Liaqat Ali Khan in a nearby Matta area. The Taliban subsequently murdered Liaqat Ali Khan for protecting the Chinese engineer and handing him over to the Pakistan army officials.

The second Chinese was freed under a deal by Taliban -- the government not only freed some 20 militants but also paid a handsome amount for his release.

In 2004, Abdullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander kidnapped two Chinese engineers from the Gomal Zam Dam site near South Waziristan. Then there was a commando action and one of the Chinese was killed.
Tahir Ali in Islamabad