Guwahati, Thursday, September 15, 2011
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'China has changed its Kashmir policy'

 London, Sep 15 (IANS): Beijing does not treat Islamabad as its equal, rued a Pakistani professor who noted that China has changed its Kashmir policy and now supports a negotiated settlement between India and Pakistan.

Athar Hussain, a Pakistani professor at the London School Economics, said: "China does not treat Pakistan as an equal. China is a superpower. China can conduct its foreign policy without Pakistan." He was speaking at a seminar on the feasibility of a modern "Silk Route", jointly organised by Democracy Forum, at the LSE.

Hussain said extremists trained in Pakistan fomenting unrest among Chinese Muslims is not going to affect the long term relationship between Beijing and Islamabad. China saw terror attacks in July. Two people hijacked a truck and drove it into a crowded street in northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Region. They jumped out of the truck wielding knives and hacked stunned bystanders. A day later July 31, a group of people set fire to a restaurant and randomly attacked civilians with knives in Kashgar.

China has credited the act of terror to religious extremists of the "East Turkistan Islamic Movement" (ETIM) trained in Pakistan.

The professor went on to say that "on the Indian front, there is a misconception that China will always support Pakistan. However, the truth is that China supports Pakistan up to a certain extent and is not going to fight wars for Pakistan since China has its interests very clear."

Hussain, who is co-director of the LSE's Asia Research Centre, also said that earlier the Chinese supported the Pakistani position of a plebiscite in Kashmir. "Now, however, the Chinese believe that the Kashmir issue can be resolved by a negotiation between the two countries," a statement quoted him as saying.

Professor Hussain advocated enhanced trade between India and Pakistan to improve bilateral relations. "There is a huge unexploited economic potential between India and Pakistan...If the trade barriers between India and Pakistan are lifted, it will immediately benefit (both sides of) Punjab."

During the seminar, Khalid Majid, political counsellor at the Pakistani High Commission in London, agitatedly accused the proceedings of indulging in what he called "Pakistan bashing". He was asked to elaborate on his allegation, but the diplomat failed to do so.

Another professor, Anatol Lieven, said the Chinese were worried about the "shambolic and corrupt practices" in Pakistan.

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