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China about-turn: Pak made sacrifices in fighting terror, has ‘clear conscience’

Speaking at a joint press conference with Pakistan, foreign minister Wang Yi said the country has been an important participant in fighting global terrorism.

world Updated: Sep 08, 2017 19:35 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi during a joint press conference with his Pakistan counterpart Khawaja Muhammad Asif in Beijing on September 8, 2017.
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi during a joint press conference with his Pakistan counterpart Khawaja Muhammad Asif in Beijing on September 8, 2017. (AFP Photo)

Pakistan has made great sacrifices in fighting terror and has a clear conscience, China said on Friday, barely five days after Beijing joined other Brics members in condemning terror groups operating from that country.

China’s message of support for its “iron brother” came during a joint news conference by foreign minister Wang Yi and his visiting Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Asif.

“The government and people of Pakistan made huge efforts and sacrifice on the fight against terrorism and such efforts and sacrifice are there for everyone to see. The international community should recognise that,” Wang said.

Some countries need to give Pakistan the full credit it deserves in this regard, Wang said. “Terrorism is a global issue. It requires concerted efforts. Instead of blaming each other, countries need to work with each other,” he added in remarks apparently aimed at India, which has highlighted its concerns over cross-border terrorism.

“When it comes to the issue of counter-terrorism, we believe Pakistan has done its best with a clear conscience,” Wang said, virtually going back on the Brics statement which stated that those committing or supporting acts of terror must be held accountable.

In what was seen as a diplomatic win for India, leaders of Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), who met for a summit in the coastal Chinese city of Xiamen on September 5, listed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed among groups causing violence and posing a threat to regional security.

The statement was seen as a big concession by China, which has blocked India’s repeated efforts to get JeM chief Masood Azhar sanctioned by the UN Security Council.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the Xiamen summit that came a week after India and China ended a border standoff, their longest ever, on Doklam plateau close to Sikkim.

Rejecting the Brics statement, Pakistan had said it was not providing safe havens to terror groups, even as Chinese experts said Beijing had made a mistake by including Pakistan and Afghanistan-based group in the Xiamen declaration.

Two days after the summit, China invited Pakistan’s foreign minister for talks even as Asif acknowledged the need to restrict the activities of the LeT and JeM.

Pakistan is also crucial to China’s ambitious new Silk Route plan. The centrepiece of the One Belt, One Road initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Wang’s remarks on Friday, made in response to a question at the news conference, could also be aimed at the US, which has pressured Pakistan for not doing enough to tackle terror.

“For years Pakistan has been a victim of terror and more importantly Pakistan is an important participant in international cooperation against terrorism,” Wang said.

He added: “Pakistan is a good brother and iron friend of China. No one knows Pakistan and understands Pakistan better than China.”

Asif said Pakistan shares China’s concerns on extremism, terrorism and separatism. He added that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), blamed by China for fomenting terrorism in Xinjiang, was a threat to the region.

Earlier reports had said ETIM leaders could be operating from Pakistan’s restive tribal region.

“Grateful to China for its unflinching support to Pakistan on its support to the fight against terrorism,” Asif said.

Describing CPEC as a “new dimension” of cooperation between the two sides, Asif said: “We will respond to any threat to CPEC.”

A cluster of road, rail and energy projects, CPEC will connect Pakistan’s southern Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea and Kashgar in China’s west.

India has reservations about the project as it passes through PoK, which New Delhi says challenges its sovereignty by lending legitimacy to Islamabad’s claim over the territory.