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India and China Team Up Against Terrorism As Pakistan Looks On


Whatever military and economic rivalries the two most populous countries in the world may have with one another have been put aside to combat a pressing threat they both have in common: terrorism. In a follow up to Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing to last month, both countries began a joint 10-day anti-terror drill on Tuesday, with India sending a detachment of 160 troops and a brigadier general to China’s Sichuan province.

Much of the terror threat for both countries emanates from Pakistan. Pakistan has long had a policy of training and equipping Islamist jihadists and sending them to the Indian-controlled Kashmir, a state that Pakistan claims as its own. And it is a Pakistani outfit that is blamed for the Mumbai attacks in 2008. In a speech at the UN General Assembly this September, Singh referred to Pakistan as the ‘epicenter of terrorism’.

For its part, China blames Pakistan for allowing Uighur separatists to train in its lawless regions bordering on Afghanistan—the same Uighur groups that are accused of having carried out the attack at the entrance of the Forbidden City in Beijing on October 28th of this year. China has urged Pakistan to expel the Uighur extremists that are currently there, so far to no avail.

This is not the first time India and China have cooperated on anti-terror exercises—the last such joint effort occurred in 2008—so one shouldn’t read too much into it happening once again. Nevertheless, the exercises should serve as a reminder to Pakistan that its strategic ambivalence towards domestic militants has real costs. Pakistan’s leaders have taken to calling China their ‘all-weather friend’. The friendship, the Chinese seem to be signaling, has some real limits.

[Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) chats with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang earlier this year. Photo courtesy Getty Images.]

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