Indian hand in Chinese unrest

Momin Iftikhar.

The occurrence of two terrorist incidents within a short span of two weeks in the month of July, in two cities located along the fabled Silk Route, in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China (XUAR) has shaken the tranquillity of this picturesque and laid back region. The first incident occurred on 18 July in Hotan when a group of terrorists attacked a police station with explosives, killing four people including two women and took hostages.
During a rescue operation 14 attackers were killed while four were taken into custody. In the second incident violence broke out in Kashgar on 30th July. There were two explosions and a hijacked car was driven into the pedestrian crowd killing at least 14 civilians and injuring 40.
A conglomeration of history, geography and politics makes Xinjiang region a rich target for interference from outside. The region is vast and remote — Urumqi, its capital is 3,000 kilometres from Beijing. Its spatial vastness embraces spaces as wide as the Western Europe. Ingress from outside is rather hard to monitor since the nodes of population are far and distant.
The region has always been considered strategically important to the security of China. Two thousand years ago the Han Dynasty, fearing attacks by the Turkic nomads, maintained a military garrison in Xinjiang — literally meaning the “New Dominions”. It was made a part of Chinese Empire in 1759 with the purpose of permanently neutralising the threat from the Central Asia to the security of the Chinese hinterland. Strong undercurrents of ethnic identities; Chinese Hans and the indigenous Uyghur provide the background in which the acts of terrorism take shape in Xinjiang. With the rise of China as a communist nation a large number of Hans were settled in Xinjiang region, which has created friction with elements of the local Uyghur population. The presence of this friction has become an important aspect for foreign elements to rake trouble.
With the break-up of the Soviet Union in the 90s and emergence of the Central Asian States, contiguous to the Xinjiang region, the incidents of violence have shown a marked rise, with inalienable linkages to the foreign elements. Foreign headquarters of Uyghur insurgents operated openly in Amati and Bishkek in the mid 90s before a governmental crackdown under Chinese government pressure scattered them; driving Uyghur separatists under ground. Encouraged and supported by certain intelligence agencies attempting to embroil China in internal security issues these separatists have forged ties with other radical groups in the region.
Apart from the Central Asian region, Afghanistan with a substantially large Uyghur Diaspora has turned into a major hub of anti-Chinese activities. Indian influence with the Northern Alliance in Northern Afghanistan as well as with Central Asian States of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan has added new dimensions to the evolution of the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the terrorist organization that is behind string of violent incidents in XUAR. In Afghanistan where the Northern Alliance controls the major levers of power in the Karzai led government, there is no dearth of the safe havens for ETIM terrorists who are being funded and trained under the patronage of RAW. It is worth noting that Hasan Mesum, the acknowledged leader of the ETIM was killed by Pakistani forces while crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan in 2003.
The blame game by the Indian media alleging a Pakistan angle following the turmoil in Hotan and Kashgar was viewed in Pakistan — and China, as a flimsy attempt to draw attention away from the Indian involvement for raking trouble in China.
While there were no statements from the Chinese officials implicating Pakistan in the episode, the Indian media went all the hog to ‘indict’ Pakistan for its involvement in acts of terrorism in the Xinjiang region.
A Hotan government spokesman categorically stated that there was no sign of linkages between the incident and Pakistani based terrorist groups. Not to be deterred, the Indian media quoted Global Times, a Chinese paper to draw in a concocted Pakistani connection. In fact what the Global Times had opined was that the incidents seemed to be the work of premeditated terrorism and that Hotan with its 90% Uyghur population appeared “prone to the influence of the terrorism that has penetrated the country from overseas.”
The paper had mentioned that Hotan was located near the borders with Pakistan (it is 500 kilometre away) — a reference that was seized by the Indian spin masters to spin their fictitious yarns of Anti-Pakistan propaganda and take a dig at the Pak-China cordial, strong and time tested relations.
What the Indian papers had missed out was that an earlier article in Global Times, authored by journalists who had visited the bordering countries of Xinjiang had reported the border with Pakistan as the “most harmonious one.”


2 Comments to “Indian hand in Chinese unrest”

  1. Why the map doesn’t include Taiwan as part of China?

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