Pakistan. A beautiful country that borders China, and is unfortunately home to a lot of terrorists. As you may know from reading the news, or watching Zero Dark Thirty, Osama Bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan until his villa was raided by Navy SEALs.
So it’s no surprise that another violent organization with ties to Al-Qaeda is also based partly in Pakistan: Jaish-e-Mohammed, or JeM.
According to the US government’s National Counterterrorism Center, JeM has openly declared war on the United States. A JeM member may have been involved in the killing of an American journalist in 2002. And JeM is responsible for a number of deadly attacks in India—including allegedly the recent attacks on Pathankot Air Force station, where seven Indian soldiers were killed.
Now you might think JeM should be labeled a terrorist organization. And in fact, the United Nations has done just that.
But you know who’s apparently not a terrorist? The leader of JeM: Masood Azhar. And that’s because…China.
In Washington, DC last week, Pakistan and China joined together in blocking the United Nations from putting Azhar on the UN terror blacklist. China said he does not meet the UN’s requirements for being labeled a “terrorist.”
As you can imagine, this has caused a major uproar in India—where a lot of innocent people have been killed by Azhar’s organization.
But since this happened on April 1, at first I thought it was a joke. You know, that the leader and financier of a terrorist organization would himself somehow not be labeled a terrorist. But apparently China doesn’t joke around.
But wait, doesn’t Pakistan want to get rid of terrorists, too? Well, it’s complicated. Partly, it has to do with Kashmir.
Pakistan, India, and to some degree China all have competing claims to this region.
Since the partition of India in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought not one but three wars over Kashmir. And over the years Pakistan has trained militants to fight on its behalf. Like the ones who later formed JeM. JeM’s goal is to take back Indian-controlled Kashmir. They’re, you know, “freedom fighters.” See? The Pakistani government doesn’t support terrorism. It’s just that not everyone agrees on who’s a terrorist.
I mean, China calls the Dalai Lama a terrorist.
And because JeM is helping stake Pakistan’s claim in Kashmir, the Pakistani government isn’t really trying too hard to get rid of them—even though many people in the government don’t like JeM’s tactics.
So why would China support Pakistan on protecting JeM’s leader?
Because China and Pakistan are besties. And by besties, I mean their friendship is, and I quote Pakistani Ambassador to China, Masood Kahn, “Higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, dearer than eyesight, sweeter than honey, and so on.”
And by “and so on” I assume the ambassador meant “mightier than the threat of global terrorism.”
So why are China and Pakistan so close?
Well, they’ve been friends for a long time. In 1950, Pakistan was one of the first nations to recognize the CCP’s rule of China, and to break ties with Taiwan.
And you know what else makes for great political friendships? Money. China is Pakistan’s second largest trade partner, about 10-12 billion dollars a year. And that trade includes things like nuclear technology. And also guns. In fact, Pakistan is the world’s biggest buyer of Chinese weapons.
In their latest deal, Pakistan bought eight Chinese submarines for five billion dollars. I assume they’d come in handy if Pakistan ever got into a war with, I don’t know, India. Again.
Now I’d like to believe China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi when he said last year that, “Fighting the scourge of terrorism is the responsibility of every country. China has always been an active participant in international counter-terrorism cooperation.”
But I think this article in state-run Global Times called Politics may eclipse anti-terror alliance may be more revealing.
So what do you think about China’s support for Pakistan? Leave your comments below.