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China backs Pakistan on terrorism measures

AFP logoAFP 19/3/2019
Shah Mehmood Qureshi wearing a suit and tie: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, welcomes Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi to Beijing © STR Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, welcomes Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi to Beijing

China backed its "iron friend" Pakistan on Tuesday, applauding its recent counter-terrorism measures as Islamabad faces criticism for harbouring militants.

An attack on Indian-administered Kashmir last month killed 40 Indian security personnel and was claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group.

"China commends Pakistan's recent strong counter-terrorism measures at home," Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters after meeting with his Pakistani counterpart.

"We fully support Pakistan in carrying through its counterterrorism campaign," Wang said.

Since March 5, Pakistani authorities have arrested hundreds of suspected Islamist militants and shuttered more than 700 madrassas, mosques, and clinics linked to banned groups.

Islamabad has come under pressure to demonstrate it is sincere about eliminating militancy, but the crackdown has yet to convince the international community.

"We also call on the international community to adopt a fair perspective of the commitments and efforts made by Pakistan over the years to combat terrorism," Wang said as he stood beside Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

New Delhi has long accused Islamabad of harbouring militant groups, which it says are used by Pakistan intelligence agencies to launch attacks in India.

The February 14 suicide blast in Indian-administered Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops -- claimed by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed -- ignited the most recent crisis between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

China last week blocked measures by the UN Security Council to blacklist JeM leader Masood Azhar.

It was the fourth time China has blocked such attempts, reinforcing suspicions that it was acting on Pakistan's behest.

On Tuesday, Pakistan expressed gratitude for China's continued support as it faces international criticism.

"Pakistan appreciates the role China has played once again, standing by Pakistan in these difficult times," Shah said.

"We have been cooperating against this menace of terrorism, and we feel strengthening this in relevant fields is important," Shah said.

"We have made a considerable progress vis-a-vis terrorism, we have paid a huge price, everybody recognises that," Shah said.

Wang welcomed Shah to Beijing by noting China calls Pakistan "our iron friends" because Islamabad "provides us with iron-like support" on Beijing's core issues of concern.

"Of course, China does the same," Wang said.

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