ISLAMABAD – Pakistan's interior minister Tuesday vowed to attack Chinese militants hiding out in his country's tribal regions, saying China's enemies were also Islamabad's.
Rehman Malik made the strong show of support for Beijing after a meeting with visiting Chinese Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu.
The trip comes as Pakistan's ties with the United States have soured over allegations that Islamabad supports Afghan insurgents that are also based in Pakistan's tribal regions. Some Pakistani officials hope that China can fill any diplomatic and economic void if Washington decides to sever or downgrade ties with Islamabad.
Muslim militants from China's western Xinjiang are known to be training and fighting on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border, along with al-Qaida and other international extremist networks. They have claimed attacks in China and issued statements threatening Beijing.
"We will strike very hard against them," Malik said. "Anybody who is the enemy of China is the enemy of Pakistan."
It remains unclear how Pakistan will do this. Most of the militants are believed to be in the North Waziristan tribal area. Pakistan's army has a presence there, but so far has not touched the several thousand militants there.
The U.S. has persistently asked Islamabad to move against militants in North Waziristan, but it has refused to do so.
Malik said Sunday Islamabad had killed or extradited several Chinese militants, but didn't say when or from where.