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China urges Pak to suppress militants

Islamabad, Sept. 5: A seven-member Chinese delegation left for Beijing today after reviewing anti-terror and security measures with Pakistani officials.

Led by a deputy minister of public security, Yang Huanning, the delegation held talks with interior minister Faisal Saleh Hayat, secretary interior Tasneem Noorani, chairman joint chiefs of staff General Muhammad Aziz Khan, officials of the Intelligence Bureau and the ISI.

A Chinese embassy official here said the talks were part of the annual consultations on security matters. However, Pakistani officials said the talks centred on Beijing’s recent offer of support to Islamabad in combating terrorism and eliminating international crimes.

The two countries have decided to establish a joint working group to enhance border security and check smuggling,” the official said, adding that Pakistan would like to address Chinese concerns regarding activities of Muslim militants in China’s western province of Sinkiang.

Beijing has expressed concern over the presence of Muslim militants in the province, which, the Chinese authorities believe, draws support from radicals living in the Pakistani border regions.

Beijing also wants Islamabad to intensify border surveillance and stop these elements from sneaking into Chinese territory.

The issue of cross-border movement of Sinkiang muslims has been an irritant between the two countries. However, observers say Beijing has not allowed the issue to affect bilateral ties between the two countries. Instead, it has reiterated the offer of support in the name of war against terrorism.

Islamabad and Beijing had signed a memorandum of understanding during Pakistan Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali’s visit to China earlier this year.

The MoU outlines a modus operandi for enhanced cooperation between the two countries in the areas of border security.

According to the Dawn newspaper, France, Germany and Britain are also ready to offer help to Pakistan to tackle militancy.

“We have succeeded in dismantling the al Qaida network to a considerable extent, but I admit that the government has not been able to thoroughly eliminate this international terrorist outfit from our part of the world,” the Dawn quoted interior minister Faisal Saleh Hayat as saying. The minister added that part of a $3 billion package pledged by the US during President Pervez Musharraf’s visit to Washington will be spent on anti-terrorism activities.

The Pakistan army has already received five helicopters in addition to six C-130s the US has promised to deliver soon. Fencing of the border with Afghanistan and surveillance gadgets are also part of the assistance that the US government has provided to Pakistan in return for its active involvement in the anti-terror campaign.

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