26, columnist Irfan Husain asked in the Dawn: “So why the deafening silence
across the Islamic world when around 1.5 million Muslims in China’s Xinjiang
province have been forced into vast ‘re-education centres’?”It is indeed
unforgivable that the world should abandon the Uighur Muslims but of late,
there have been some protests at least. Yet, the tragic fact is that the
Uighur, as a small Muslim community in China, have responded to the stimulus of
al Qaeda in the region and come to Pakistan in gangs to attack the country’s
“deviation” from true Islam.
Muslim states are also scared of them. Uzbekistan is hounded by an Uzbek Islamist
outfit that not too long ago was based in Pakistan along with the al Qaeda-led
Taliban and Punjabi terrorists. Afghanistan was Islam’s other boiling cauldron
and Uzbekistan was facing all the heat from it. Totalitarian Uzbekistan gave a
drubbing to Tahir Yuldashev, the Uzbek terrorist who fled to Pakistan with his
warriors. Pakistan kowtowed to him till he was killed by an American drone. The
Central Asian states are scared of what the Uighurs together with the al Qaeda
and ISIS may do to them.
up a part of the terrorist group of Yuldashev, the Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan (IMU). The Uighur outfit was called the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU).
The al Qaeda in Syria also had a lot of Uighurs fighting on its side. One was
Abu Omar al-Turkistani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Idlib Province.
He began fighting in Afghanistan after migrating there from Xinjiang sometime
before the US invasion.
fought in the Battle of Tora Bora before fleeing to Pakistan, where he was
arrested and held for a decade. After his release he went back to Afghanistan
and joined the IJU. He spoke multiple languages — including Pashto, English,
and Russian — and this enabled him to become a IJU commander — a position
retained till 2015, when he migrated to Syria to join the jihad there. In July
2016, al Qaeda chief Al Zawahiri, who was hiding somewhere in Pakistan, praised
the Muslims of “East Turkistan” for their dedication to “waging jihad around
Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), a largely Uighur jihadist group, affiliated to
the al Qaeda, operates in Afghanistan and Syria. Its latest video from
Afghanistan shows the spoils taken from the Afghan military — Afghan military
vehicles, including several Humvees, and weapons, including M16 and M4 variant
rifles. It put up a similar video in 2018. In 2015 too, the outfit boasted
about its “victories” with videos. A training camp’s photograph indicated it
was not a temporary fixture.
Metallurgical Group Corporation has bought a controlling stake in the Aynak
copper field — one of the largest copper fields in the world — in Logar
province for $3 billion. China’s largest oil company has won the rights to
exploit the first oil field to be tendered in north-western Afghanistan. This
could bring the Chinese into a confrontation with the Uighurs in Afghanistan.
what is in store for its Belt and Road project in the region. With the
Americans gone, the Taliban will oust India from Kabul, penetrate a vulnerable
Pakistan and look to conquering the Xinjiang region to “raise the Uighur from
slavery”. Pakistan is not too clear about what will happen next. It is fencing
its western border but is not capable of pushing back the religious radicalism
of its middle class and the army.
is worried is clear from the FATF decisions under its presidency. China is
using strong-arm methods to control the Uighur on its territory and forcibly
change their minds — something that have not worked historically. Pakistan is
scared too and has succumbed to China’s persuasion inside FATF to control its
own home-grown terrorists which it used as non-state actors in its proxy war
Ahmed is consulting editor, Newsweek Pakistan)
Headline: The Uighur Connection
Source: The Indian Express