BEIJING: Security agencies in China are quizzing their Pakistani counterparts about possible links between the attack in Mumbai and terrorist
organisations based in Pakistan, informed sources said.
Chinese agencies have already taken measures to seal off possible loopholes in the country's borders with India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to ensure that no fugitives sneak in. Beijing is particularly worried that Pakistan based terrorists might seek refuge Xinjiang, the terrorism hit province bordering Pakistan.
"We are ready to cooperate with India and Pakistan to fight terrorists groups that are active in the region," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told TOI. "We face the danger of terrorists' attacks from supporters of the East Turkmenistan movement. So, we are very concerned," he said.
China, which is a close allay of Pakistan, is capable of persuading leaders in Islamabad to part with critical intelligence and even hand over terrorists to India. But Beijing might prefer to deal with Pakistani leaders on this score to safeguard itself from terrorism spilling across the border to its own territory.
Liu, the foreign ministry spokesman, said China was ready to join hands with India to track down terrorists groups that may have been involved in the attack in Mumbai on November 26. The event demonstrated that India, Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to be serious targets of terrorists. Chinese security agencies were closely studying the incident to examine the role of terrorists in the region, he said.
"We have an arrangement with Pakistan on working jointly to combat terrorism," Liu said and added that the arrangement is working well.
But an anti-terrorism expert of the Chinese government feels that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was pointing a finger at Pakistan to "cover up" what he described as the "flaws and shortcomings" of the Indian government. The terrorists in Mumbai attack may have come from within India's border, Li Wei, director of anti-terrorist studies of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations told the official media.
China's public security bureau recently indicated that most of the ultras active in the country's Xinjiang region have been trained and backed by Pakistan based terrorist organisations. Beijing is worried that the close linkages between different terrorists groups and possible links with the al-Qaida could escalate the already volatile law and order situation on the China-Pakistan border, sources said.
Li, who works for the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that the Mumbai attack will have profound influence on other nations in Asia. It is also a signal that existing measures on issues like early warning system and risk evaluation are not sufficient to be prepared for such brazen attacks, he said.
The remarks from the Chinese foreign ministry comes in the wake of reports that the Pakistani military brass has threatened to pull out troops from the Afghanistan border and thus bring an end to the US-led war on terror if there is any military action from the Indian side over the Mumbai attack.
Pakistan has for long managed to keep both US and China on tenterhooks by using threats of easing its military pressure on the Afghanistan border and weakening its surveillance of Afghanistan based terrorists groups including Al Qaida activists, informed sources said.