BEIJING: Within days of pointing the finger at Pakistan as the source of strength for terrorists in its Xinjiang province, China on Saturday sent an elite military commando unit to the region bordering its western neighbour.
A worried Pakistan reacted by dangling the carrot of playing the role of a "conduit for China to reach out to the Muslim world". The move suggests a possible crackdown by the military, which may be gradually losing confidence over the ability of Xinjiang's local forces to tackle well-trained terrorists flowing in from across the border in Pakistan. The People's Liberation Army's Snow Leopard Commando unit is expected to carry out "anti-terrorist missions" in Kashgar and Hotan area, which were hit by deadly violence in recent weeks.
The elite force will focus on riot control, bomb disposal and be prepared to react to any possible hijacking attempts by the separatists, the official media said. The government is trying to ensure security at a forthcoming trade conference in the region, which saw killing of 30 people in July.
Pakistan appeared shaken since experts in government run think-tank came out openly saying Pakistan is the source of training and support to the terrorists seeking separation of Xinjiang from China to form an independent nation. The statement has caused serious harm to its public image as an "all-weather friend" of China.
"We will help China build a bridge to the Middle East and West Europe. We are also a conduit for China to reach out to the Muslim world," Pakistani ambassador Masood Khan was quoted in the Chinese media as saying.
China commandos in Xinjiang worries Pak - The Times of India