China backed its “iron friend” Pakistan on Tuesday, applauding its recent counter-terrorism measures as Islamabad faces criticism for harboring militants.
An attack on India-Occupied Kashmir last month killed 40 Indian security personnel and was claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group, though a local separatist perpetrated it.
“China commends Pakistan’s recent strong counter-terrorism measures at home,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters after meeting with his Pakistani counterpart. “We fully support Pakistan in carrying through its counterterrorism campaign,” Wang said.
Since March 5, Pakistani authorities have arrested hundreds of suspected Islamist militants and shuttered more than 700 madrassas, mosques, and clinics linked to banned groups. Islamabad has come under pressure to demonstrate it is sincere about eliminating militancy, but the crackdown has yet to convince the international community.
“We also call on the international community to adopt a fair perspective of the commitments and efforts made by Pakistan over the years to combat terrorism,” Wang said as he stood beside Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
New Delhi has long accused Islamabad of harboring militant groups, which it says are used by Pakistan intelligence agencies to launch attacks in India. The Feb. 14 suicide blast in India-Occupied Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops—claimed by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed—ignited the most recent crisis between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
China last week blocked measures by the U.N. Security Council to blacklist JeM leader Masood Azhar. It was the fourth time China has blocked such attempts, reinforcing suspicions that it was acting on Pakistan’s behest.
On Tuesday, Pakistan expressed gratitude for China’s continued support as it faces international criticism. “Pakistan appreciates the role China has played once again, standing by Pakistan in these difficult times,” Shah said. “We have been cooperating against this menace of terrorism, and we feel strengthening this in relevant fields is important,” he added. “We have made a considerable progress vis-à-vis terrorism, we have paid a huge price, everybody recognizes that.”
Wang welcomed Shah to Beijing by noting China calls Pakistan “our iron friends” because Islamabad “provides us with iron-like support” on Beijing’s core issues of concern. “Of course, China does the same,” Wang said.