Beijing: With China blaming recent attacks in Xinjiang on extremists trained in Pakistan-based terror camps, Islamabad has promised to help its all-weather ally fight Uyghur militants in the far-western frontier region and proposed "integrated border management" to address the issue.
Pakistan and China are "entwined so closely that any move to hurt China's security in Xinjiang hurts us simultaneously," Pakistan's Ambassador to Beijing Masood Khan told a seminar here on Friday.
"Our two countries will continue to fight the ETIM, (East Turkistan Islamic Movement). Our solidarity in this regard is rock solid. No country or force can drive a wedge between us," he said, according to Pakistan's news agency.
Khan's comments came against the backdrop of allegations by the municipal government in Kashghar in Xinjiang that leaders of ETIM who carried out the attacks in the city close to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) last month were trained in terror camps in Pakistan.
This was the first allegation by China in the five-decade long strategic ties between the two countries and was seen as open expression of China's disappointment in Pakistan's efforts to help it contain separatist ETIM militants in Xinjiang, home to Muslim Uyghur community.
Khan, in his address, also proposed "integrated development" of borders.
Xinjiang borders Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Pakistan wants establishment of special economic zone (SEZ) to develop the area.
"China's policy of developing its Western region, especially Xinjiang, offers a historic opportunity for bringing Pakistan and China even closer and using Kashgar and Khorgos as launching pads for the modern day Silk Road," Khan said.
Khan said Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region "are keen to participate in the development of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Kashgar".
"Ultimately we are working for Pak-China integrated border management and trans-regional economic zones of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan," he said.
Once the "enhanced connectivity" is established between China and Pakistan, it will "radically alter the geo-economic landscape of East Asia-West Asia neighbourhood," Khan said.
"We are working on several projects. Upgradation of existing Karakorum Highway takes priority. Ground work has been done for a fiber optic link, a railroad and more frequent connections by air. This route would then be used for transportation of oil and gas or laying pipelines.”
"Transportation routes between Karachi-Gwadar and Kashgar-Urumqi will drastically shorten distance for China's trade that now takes place through Indian Ocean and the
Malacca Straits," he said.