Pakistan-trained terror group is top threat to China
As India and China continue consultations on the situation in Afghanistan, Beijing perceives Pakistan-trained cadres of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as the biggest threat to its security interests, people familiar with developments said.
ETIM, along with Lashkar-eTaiba and the Haqqani Network, was recently named by the US department of defense among the three terror groups posing the greatest threat to foreign troops in Afghanistan. In a report covering the first quarter of the year, the US estimated ETIM had 100 fighters in the war-torn country.
Beijing’s concerns about ETIM figured in recent discussions between Indian and Chinese officials, the people cited above said.
“The Afghan side is also aware of these concerns. Some 50 to 60 ETIM fighters have been captured and handed over to the Chinese,” said a person who declined to be identified as he wasn’t authorised to speak to the media.
ETIM has been designated a terror group by the US and UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee and several of its top leaders operated from Pakistani soil. Its founder Hasan Mahsum was killed during a raid on an al-Qaeda facility in Pakistan in 2003 while Chinese state media reported in 2014 its co-founder Memetuhut Memetrozi, currently in prison in China, was trained in a Pakistani madrassa. China, like India, is opposed to any “precipitous withdrawal” of US and foreign forces from Afghanistan and prefers an orderly and well-managed pulling out of troops that doesn’t result in a vacuum, the people said. “The Chinese side would like the institutions and structures created over the past 18 years to be preserved, as it feels getting rid of them could lead to anarchy and chaos,” the person cited above said.
People familiar with developments said the Chinese had been telling Pakistan to tackle the problem of terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil.