China’s Uighur Muslim headache and the connection to the Azhar ban
New Delhi, Mar 28: China's mass detention of the Uighur Muslims was termed as unfortunate by US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. The statement comes in the wake of human rights activists accusing China of putting millions of Uighurs in detention camps.
China cites them as a terror threat and justifies the action, but continues to remain silent on groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba or Jaish-e-Mohammad, which have proven track records of terrorism in India.
China in fact has blocked attempts by the world community to list JeM chief, Maulana Masood Azhar as a terrorist on several occasions. When it comes to the Chinese block on Azhar, there is a history to it.
In recent times, the Indian Intelligence has pointed out that Azhar's JeM protects Chinese interests in Pakistan from terror attacks. It began almost a decade back, when Pakistan was asked by China to return an Islamist Uyghur East Turkestan Islamic Movement. It was learnt that this terrorist traced to Pakistan was involved in the Xinjiang bombing. He was handed over in no time to China.
Since then there has been a bonhomie between the two nations and not to mention an unseen deal that the two countries had struck. The relationship between Pakistan and China is not just bi-lateral. China has interests in Afghanistan and the Taliban it may be recalled had recently said that it would not target the infrastructure projects. It is also a well known fact that the Taliban shares a close bond with the Jaish-e-Mohammad.
The ties with Pakistan must also be seen in the Taliban context. At the time of the Soviet war, China had trained the Mujahideen extensively. However this came with a clause and that was the Taliban would never back the cause of the Uighur Muslims.
Any move by China on Azhar could also drastically change the equations with the Taliban, an outfit that is close to the JeM.
Experts say that on Azhar, China may eventually change its stand. The country had taken a similar stand in the case of Hafiz Saeed, the chief of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. However there was huge international pressure on China after the Mumbai 26/11 attack. This forced China to change its stance on Saeed.
The experts also add that in Azhar, there is an added advantage for China. The JeM in particular has very often helped prevent attacks on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
China wants to protect its workers and interests at any cost and at such a time, the JeM comes in handy.