Beijing, January 26 – As India and the United States on Sunday announced deepening of defence and security ties, Pakistan’s army chief General Raheel Sharif met the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) top general in Beijing and received China’s support for its efforts to crack down on terror groups amid renewed criticism from Delhi and Washington.
General Sharif, whose two-day visit to China is coinciding with Obama’s India trip, was hosted by the powerful vice-chairman of the PLA’s Central Military Commission (CMC), top ranking General Fan Changlong. The CMC, the top military body, is headed by President Xi Jinping. The two generals discussed expanding security and defence cooperation.
Pakistani reports said China had “praised” the Pakistani army’s recent operation to target extremist groups near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, including those affiliated to the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which China says has been behind recent attacks in its frontier western Muslimmajority Xinjiang region.
China has in the past voiced concern about East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) camps active in Pakistan. China’s statement of support to Pakistan’s anti-terror efforts comes amid increasing pressure from India and the US on the issue.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry during a visit to Islamabad called on Pakistan to tackle all militant groups, including those that posed threats to Indian, American and Afghan interests.
“Regional security, defence related issues were discussed during the meeting,” said Pakistan military spokesperson Major Gen Asim Bajwa tweeted.
“A decison on the enhanced long-term defence collaboration, security and counter-terrorism cooperation, intelligence sharing, training exchanges has been taken,” he said.
They discussed operations against militants in the border areas. Gen Fan praised Pakistan’s military offensive codenamed ‘Zarb-i-Azb’, terming it as a decisive, indiscriminate, bold and hard blow for terrorists, Bajwa said.
The two countries have stepped up security to prevent infiltration of Uygur militants from China’s volatile Xinjiang region. Pakistan’s military has targeted militant bases in the tribal areas which also included militants from ETIM, the group which has carried out a number of violent attacks in China’s restive Xinjiang region.
The Pakistan army chief arrived here on Saturday to meet China’s political and military leadership and discuss issues pertaining to security and defence cooperation.