China may no longer be able to remain in the shadows of the ongoing clashes between regional rivals and nuclear-armed neighbors Pakistan and India in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Recent news reports, primarily carried by media outlets linked to India, claim that anti-India terrorists have been waving Chinese and Pakistani flags during demonstrations on the Indian-held portion of the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.
The autonomous region of Xinjiang, home China’s largest concentration of the Muslim Uighur minority in the country, borders Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Indian media reports that protests in Kashmir have coincided with the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) nations summit that took place last weekend in the Indian city of Goa and was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
NDTV (New Delhi Television Limited) notes:
Possibly for the first time in Kashmir, Chinese flags have been found in [Indian military] raids along with material that was allegedly to be used by terrorists – petrol bombs, anti-India publicity material, unauthorized cell phones and documents linked to terror groups Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba [LeT].
Both Jaish-e-Mohammed and LeT are officially listed as foreign terrorist organizations by the United States.
[Indian] security forces carried out extensive searches yesterday [Oct. 18] in the town of Baramulla… [which] was firmly in the control of the massive mobs that would defy curfew to attack security personnel and their property, including bases and vehicles. The violence has ebbed in recent days. Yesterday’s raids were carried out in areas where Chinese flags had been spotted in large demonstrations.
Although Pakistani flags were also allegedly waved by protesters, the Indian government appeared surprised and concerned by the presence of Chinese flags.
Anti-national elements in Baramulla hoisted Pakistani and Chinese flags after Friday prayers. This coincided with the arrival of Xi Jinping on the Indian soil. The coincidence was lost out on none. The messaging for China’s help by the separatists and the militants in Baramulla injects a new dimension to militancy and jihad in Kashmir.
On this very land, how many kinds of flags have been waived or hoisted – flag of Islamic State [ISIS/ISIL], of LeT, of Pakistan and now of China.
Although China, which has competing territorial claims to Kashmir along with Pakistan and India has appeared to keep itself out of the recent confrontations between the two other countries, Beijing has been described as a closer partner to Pakistan than to India.
“Pakistan is a long-term ally of China and their strategic and economic interests are especially interlinked through a new $46 billion trade corridor that links Western China to Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea,” notes NDTV.
Beijing does maintain a relationship with both its neighbors India and Pakistan.
However, China reportedly provides more weapons to Pakistan than to any other country and builds Muslim-majority nations nuclear reactors.
In the last few months, India and Pakistan have accused each other of firing across the Line of Control (LoC) that separates their respective regions in Kashmir. The recent escalating clashes between the two countries have violated the mutually agreed upon 2003 ceasefire.
Fighting between the two nations intensified in July after Indian groups killed Burhan Wani, commander of the Kashmir-based and Pakistan-linked terrorist group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.
That incident was followed by India accusing Pakistan of backing terrorists who carried out an attack in Indian-held Kashmir on September 18 that reportedly killed at least 18 Indian soldiers.
In retaliation, India launched “surgical strikes” on September 29 against four camps in Pakistan-held Kashmir, claiming to have killed 38 terrorists.
Nevertheless, Islamabad maintains there were no strikes, adding that Indian troops used small arms and mortars to specifically target Pakistani military personnel, killing two soldiers and wounding nine others.
The clashes have continued to rise since.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training militants in Kashmir fighting for independence from India or in favor of a merger with Pakistan, a charge that Islamabad denies.
Meanwhile, Pakistan refers to those militants as dissidents, accusing India of committing atrocities against them. Besides India, the U.S. and Afghanistan also accuse Pakistan of harboring terrorist groups.
The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was recently been linked to forcing Christians and Muslims to become Hindu. Pakistan has also been accused of coercing Christians and Hindus into following Islam.