Published On: Tue, Jul 22nd, 2014

China’s special envoy lauds ISI’s fight against terrorism

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China’s special envoy lauds ISI’s fight against terrorism - Newspaper - DAWN.COM

China’s newly appointed special envoy for Afghanistan Sun Yuxi on Monday dismissed Indian and Afghan concerns about Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and backed its role in fighting terrorism, Indian newspapers reports from Beijing have said.

The Hindu said Mr Sun rejected Indian suggestions that elements in the ISI were fanning a terror campaign in Afghanistan. Instead, he said the ISI “has been effective in fighting against terrorism”.

The paper recalled that a May 23 attack by gunmen on India’s Consulate in Herat was blamed by President Hamid Karzai on the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Mr Sun, a former ambassador to Afghanistan and India who was appointed as special envoy last week, said: “I think as an agency for the government and military for Pakistan, the ISI has been effective in fighting against terrorism. As for the specific [Herat] case, I have not been following regional developments for some time but I do believe that the Pakistan government or any responsible agency of Pakistan will only fight against terrorism instead of being involved with any terrorist groups.”

India has long expressed concerns about its interests in Afghanistan being targeted by Pakistan-linked terrorist groups. Mr Sun said he hoped to work closely with both India and Pakistan in his new role, The Hindu online reported.

“I want to tell my colleagues from India and Pakistan that I know that both countries are making efforts to safeguard peace and stability and helping Afghanistan with reconstruction,” he said.

“As special envoy, I will keep a close working relationship with counterparts from India and Pakistan so as to contribute to peace and fighting terrorism”.

Following his visit to Afghanistan this week, Mr Sun will travel to Islamabad, the paper said. He is expected to hold talks with top leaders in the Pakistani government and military and discuss the situation in Afghanistan. He told the informal meeting with some journalists he believed the Pakistan government would “play an important and positive role in the peaceful reconstruction of Afghanistan and fight terrorism together with the international community”.

Mr Sun also spoke of China’s own terror concerns, with some members of the separatist group the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) – an Islamist group campaigning for independence in the western Xinjiang region – believed to have ties with Afghanistan-based groups.

“When I was ambassador in Afghanistan, particularly before the September 11 attacks, hundreds of people coming from Xinjiang were receiving training in Afghanistan,” he said, with the peak number around one thousand. The war in Afghanistan dealt “a heavy blow” to those groups, he said.

Mr Sun said China would continue with its plans to invest and develop infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, including building a transport and electrical power network covering the whole country, constructing residential communities and developing mineral resources. China’s commercial assistance projects have reached around $1.6 billion Yuan ($260 million).

With India and China both investing in infrastructure projects and “a great need for hospitals and schools”, both countries should consider undertaking joint projects, he said.

The Chinese special envoy said he was optimistic about Afghanistan’s future, with the imminent withdrawal of US troops underlining the immediate need to achieve “nationwide reconciliation” with “all parties brought into the mainstream”.

“The Afghan government is now in place for 10 years and should begin to shoulder major responsibility,” he said. “The US is beginning to withdraw security forces and we feel happy about this. We also welcome the fact,” he added, “that some military bases of the US are still in operation.”

Reuters adds: Mr Sun said China does not seek to fill a void left in Afghanistan by the withdrawal of US troops but will play a “huge” commercial role in helping rebuild the country.

Some Western officials have said China is likely to emerge as a strategic player in Afghanistan but the envoy said China’s involvement would remain largely commercial.

“This idea about filling a void after the withdrawal of troops, I think it doesn’t exist,” he reporters in Beijing before heading to Afghanistan.

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