BEIJING: Pakistan has eliminated “almost all” militants from China’s Uighur ethnic minority on its territory, the country’s president said yesterday, as China conducts a crackdown within its own borders. President Mamnoon Hussain told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that recent anti-terror operations struck against members of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM)
. The group-whose existence in a significant form is widely disputed by experts-is said to support creating an independent state in China’s Xinjiang region, which has a border with Pakistan.
Xinjiang-the homeland of China’s 10 million Uighurs, a Turkicspeaking, mostly Muslim minority-is sporadically hit by deadly violence. An operation against “extremist and terrorism” had been “successful in eradicating the terrorism from our country”, Hussain told Xi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. “It has also been very helpful in eliminating the ETIM element from our country and I think almost all the ETIM people in our country have been eliminated.
Maybe, if they are there, there should be very few.” China and Pakistan were “iron brothers”, he added. China regularly accuses what it says are exiled Uighur separatist groups such as ETIM of being behind attacks in Xinjiang, which has seen a wave of unrest.
Chinese authorities have also accused scores of Uighurs who have fled the country of attempting to train with extremists in Syria and eventually return to Xinjiang to wage jihad. But many experts doubt the existence of ETIM, pointing out that although China frequently blames the group for radicalizing Uighurs, it has yet to provide any evidence that outside organizations were involved in attacks. — AFP