As the Bush administration acknowledges that their efforts to contain Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s remote Northwest Frontier Province have floundered, Foreign Policy in Focus reports on China’s role in the region:
Sino-Pakistani relations, which are unparalleled in closeness and warmth, have come under severe strain lately from growing militancy in Pakistan. The Pakistani military’s storming of the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) has been an important indicator of the changing tenor of the relationship between the two countries.
The most recent source of stress is the July 8 execution-style killing of three Chinese nationals who owned a small business in a town near Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan. The killings were widely seen as revenge for the government’s crackdown on religious militants holed up in the Red Mosque in Islamabad, the national capital. Earlier on June 23, these militants abducted seven Chinese nationals, six of them women, who worked at a massage parlor in Islamabad. Militants believed the parlor was a front for prostitution, which they vowed to shut down as part of their anti-vice campaign. Outraged by the kidnapping, the Chinese government made a visible departure from its past diplomatic courtesies to publicly demand that Pakistan ensure the safety of its citizens. Hours after the demand, all abductees were freed unharmed. [Full Text]
Tarique Niazi is an environmental sociologist at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. Read also his article, Thunder in Sino-Pakistani Relations from China Brief (Volume 6, Issue 5).