By Samuel Baid

President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr in China’s Muslim majority Province Xinjiang where the violence in July-August was blamed on training camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. During his stay in China he said it was his dream that the peoples of China and Pakistan could travel to each other’s country without a passport. A few months ago he had called China his second home.

Mr. Zardari went to say his Eid prayers in a mosque of Xinjiang’s capital city of Urumqi, which was the scene of Muslim rebels’ terror. He took with him his son Bilawal, who is the chairperson of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), daughter Asifa, so-called Prime Minister of “Azad” Kashmir Choudhary Abdul Majid and Syed Mehdi Shah, who Pakistan calls the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan which is called a province without a Constitutional status. China was pleased to welcome the so-called Prime Minister and Chief Minister of what it itself calls a disputed region. But China’s duplicity is not the subject of this article.

The subject is the possibility of China exploiting Pak-United States divorce and Pakistan’s rulers mercenary character to rub off the border between Xinjiang and Gilgit-Baltistan and other parts of occupied Kashmir and Khyber-Pakhtunwa. The present Government, in order to curry favour with anti US fundamentalists, seems to go to any extent to oblige China ignoring Pakistan’s long-term interests and its place in the world as an independent country.

Before Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s visit to Beijing, its ambassador Masud Khan revealed his country’s future plan of relations with China. He told Urdu BBC that China and Pakistan were jointly fighting terrorism. (It is the Muslims of Xinjiang whom China calls terrorists).

Mr. Khan said China wanted to bring prosperity to Xinjiang, the prosperity which would ultimately benefit Gilgit-Baltistan, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhunkhawa. He said the soil of Pakistan would work as a bridge for China down to the Gwadar port for trade. Mr. Zardari was confirming this plan when he told a Chinese TV channel in Beijing that his country wanted to be a connecting route for crude oil supply to China from across the world. “We are looking at energy coming to China through us”, he said.

China is concentrating on development activities in Xinjiang to win over local Muslims. It is going to start the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the west of Kashgar. Mr. Zardari was in Xinjiang apparently for two reasons: one, to assure the Chinese leaders that the ISI was not holding training camps for activities of East Turkistan Islamic movement  (ETIM). Two, to participate in the first China-Eurasia Exhibition which was held from September 1 to 2 and which was supposedly aimed at enhancing trade  between China and Pakistan.

It is not known if Mr. Zardari’s visit to Urumqi helped to lessen the Xinjiang Muslims’ alienation from Beijing. In fact development programmes are not the answer to their problems. Development, on the contrary, is resented by them because that is seen as a trick to bring more Hun Chinese to Xinjiang to turn them Red Indians in their own land. The percentage of Muslim population has been more than halved in the name of development which causes influx of Hun Chinese to Xinjiang. In fact, the real beneficiaries of this development are Hun Chinese. It is like the Baluch nationalists, who reject Government’s development programmes because they are meant to drown their voice of resentment against the denials of their rights. In case of Xinjiang, the Chinese Government ruthlessly employed the weapon of migration of Hun Chinese to the Uyghur Muslims movement for liberation from China which annexed Xinjiang to its territory in 1949.

The movement became more radicalised during Afghan war of the 1980s. This war was called a jehad by the US, which was then promoting militant jehadi culture in Pakistan. Uyghur Muslims took part in this jehad and, as a result, became  more inspired to got rid of the Chinese Control over their land. It was after that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement was launched in the 1990s to spearhead the liberation movement. The Pakistani rulers’ denials notwithstanding, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan say that ETIM activists receive their training there. China, therefore, is equally concerned about Gilgit-Baltistan. It has plans to upgrade the Karakoram Highway. This project will cost about $500 million. China will build 165 Km Jaglot-Skardu and 135Km Thalest-Sazin roads in Gilgit-Baltistan. The two roads will cost approximately Rs. 45 Billion. China will bear 85 per cent of the total cost while Pakistan will pay the remaining 15 percent. It is also helping Pakistan build 17 mega projects in the energy sector in Gilgit-Baltistan and “Azad” Kashmir, where it is upraising the Mangla Dam. Also, there is a plan to construct a rail link with Pakistan.

They say wolves in Mangolia hide and patiently watch deers grazing. Once they are too full to run fast, the wolves pounce on them. India has somewhat a similar experience with China. Drugged by Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai, India never suspected that China had aggressive designs against it. Now Pakistan is high on the “all weather friendship” drug. However, in the late 1950s and the early 1960s, Gen Ayub Khan, who had snatched political power in 1958, was suspicious about China. It was for this reason that he proposed a Joint Defence pact to then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It was the time when India, with a missionary zeal, was advocating non-alignment and it considered China as its best friend. Mr. Nehru cold-shouldered the proposal by asking: defence pact against whom? Gen Ayub could not make bold to name China. Thus ended Gen Ayub’s proposal and soon (1963) Pakistan and China tied a knot of “all weather friendship” against India in which Pakistan gave away a very large chunk of fertile Hunza Valley area in Gilgit-Balistan which later was renamed as Aksai Chin as dowry to China.

Dr. Satyanarayan  Sinha wrote a book in 1961 titled “The Chinese Aggression – A first Hand Account from Central Asia, Tibet and The High Himalayas”. The Author, while in the Soviet Union, talked to some informed Russians about China. One of them was Apresoff, who served as the Soviet Union’s Consul-General in Urumqi from 1953 to 1957. He learnt in 1957 that the Chinese were getting Soviet military supplies of eight to ten divisions in the deserts of Sinkiang (now Xinjiang). The Kremlin could see in China’s demand for so much weapons a clear picture of its designs. These designs, he said, were to capture the fertile northern territories of India. Their (China’s) lifetine in Sinkiang was having an abrupt end in the deserts of Takla Makan. In the long run it was impossible to maintain this position. That lifetime’s blood had to circulate. The Chinese plan was to connect that military link of Sinkiang through the fertile Himalayas regions to regain new vigour and then to connect it further with their south-east part of the country on the way back to Peking.

These designs, said Apresoff, were frustrated by the abrupt stoppage of Soviet military supplies to China in March 1960 and by revolts by Sinkiangese nationalists who were instigated and supported by Russian weapons. The Soviet had not accepted the Chinese control over Xinjiang although to the outside world, the Soviet Union and China were two great Communist comrades. They always denied any rift between then.

The above quotation from “The Chinese Aggression” is cited to show China’s long-term plans to over-run fertile Gilgit-Baltistan. Now is the best time for this sweet invasion when Pakistan is in its weakest state – it has all but isolated itself from the world because of its connections with terrorists and its alienation from the United States whose dollars kept Pakistan’s economy afloat.

China certainly cannot replace of the US in the life of Pakistan. The US did not exploit Pakistan’s natural resources. On the contrary China’s main interest in Pakistan is its natural resources and of course its hostility towards India.

To what extent the present Pakistani Government is hoping to build friendship with China is clear from its order to make Chinese a compulsory language in the schools of Sindh from the next academic year. Sindh children are already learning Sindhi, Urdu and English.


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