BEIJING: The head of the Xinjiang government was quoted by the official Xinuha news agency on Tuesday as saying that security along the China-Pakistan border would be further tightened “to prevent terrorists from entering or leaving the region illegally in 2017”.
This is being seen as China’s signalling its displeasure with Pakistan over its inability to stop terrorists from sneaking into its restive border region of Xinjiang.
Xinjiang Communist Party leaders expressed fears of militants getting training in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and returning to the province to carry out terror attacks. The statements followed a raid in which three terrorists in Xinjiang’s Hotan prefecture were killed on Sunday; the action followed a terrorist attack on December 28 in Hotan that killed five people.
Foreign ministries of China and Pakistan talk of all-weather friendship. But there has been growing concern among politicians in Xinjiang, the target of Islamist terrorism, about close links between local terrorists and Taliban camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Speaking at the regional People’s Congress, Xinjiang chairman Shohrat Zakir said that the government has stepped up its efforts in entry-exit system to curb illegal movement of people across the border. Officials including the Communist Party head of Kashgar prefecture, which borders Pakistan, too stressed on the need to check illegal infiltration from Pakistan.
Terrorists who carried out attacks in the region in recent years received training abroad and returned illegally, said Aniwar Turson, a Communist Party official in Kashgar.
Xinhua said, “Xinjiang has been China’s main battleground in the fight against terrorism,” adding that suspects were killed when they resisted arrest.
Earlier in December, China blocked India’s request to add the head of the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad to a UN Security Council blacklist of groups linked to al Qaeda.
India has accused Jaish-e-Mohammad and its top leader, Maulana Masood Azhar, of masterminding several attacks, including a deadly assault on an Indian air base in January.