Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Wednesday denied the role of Pakistan-based terror groups in this month's attacks in China's far-western Xinjiang region, claiming that a statement from the Xinjiang regional government on a Pakistani link to the attacks was “misconstrued”.
Ms. Khar, on her first visit to Beijing as Foreign Minister, also stressed Pakistan was keen on increasing counter-terrorism cooperation with China, following her meetings with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
“The statement, vis-à-vis Pakistan's involvement of any sort, was misconstrued, was not from the Chinese government,” Ms. Khar was quoted as saying by the Voice of America (VOA) at a press conference here on Wednesday.
Following the attacks in the city of Kashgar, which left at least 21 people killed, the regional government in Xinjiang said terrorists who had reportedly trained in terror camps of the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in Pakistan had carried out the violence.
While the statement was issued by the regional government, Chinese officials and analysts told The Hindu it was unlikely the regional government could have issued a statement mentioning Pakistan without Beijing's approval, as Ms. Khar appeared to suggest was the case.
She said Pakistan “has worked with China regarding the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and is ready to do more,” VOA reported. “If you are saying, ‘Does it [ETIM] have any base in Pakistan?' We do not know. And if there is any such issue, as far as this particular group is concerned, then as I have said clearly, we would like to cooperate further to ensure — and we have already cooperated on this particular group within Pakistan.”
Indian media kept out
Indian media in Beijing was kept out of Wednesday's press conference. Danyal Gilani, spokesperson at the Pakistan Embassy in Beijing, told The Hindu on Tuesday the interaction “was only for Chinese media”, though media from the U.S., U.K. and Europe were later invited.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Yang, Chinese Foreign Minister, described the bilateral relationship as a “high-quality strategic cooperative partnership”.
Mr. Yang is understood to have expressed Chinese appreciation for Pakistan's support of China's “core interests”, importantly including issues related to Xinjiang.
Ms. Khar said her country “just seeks the world's understanding for the current challenges that Pakistan is going through. “We are the ones and our people are the ones that are paying the price who are experiencing the brunt of it,” she was quoted as saying by AP.
“We have made it clear to our neighbours and we make it clear again that Pakistan has no interest for its territory to be used by any non-state actors against any other country.”