China Accused of Arresting Dozens of Muslim Women Married to Pakistani Men
ISLAMABAD, China has allegedly detained dozens of Muslim women in its restive Xinjiang province for marrying men in a northern border region of neighboring Pakistan.
The issue was addressed in a unanimously passed resolution of the legislative assembly of the Gilgit-Baltistan region, known as GB, that was revealed by the Pakistani lawmakers Sunday.
The resolution demands the Pakistani government take urgent steps to secure the release of more than 50 Chinese wives, who it says were taken into custody last year while they were visiting relatives in their native towns in Xinjiang.
The deputy speaker of the assembly was quoted as saying the women were rounded up during a Chinese anti-terrorism crackdown on the ethnic Uighur Muslin community in Xinjiang.
The detainees are married to GB men who are mostly associated with trading activity through the Khunjerab Pass, the only land route linking Pakistan and China, about 4,500 meters above sea level.
Regional lawmakers insisted the history of intermarriages between GB and Xinjiang is decades old, and both the border regions share deep cultural ties. They asserted the detained Chinese women were innocent and had no links to any radical elements.
Chinese and Pakistani federal officials have not immediately offered any reaction to the allegations leveled in the resolution.
Religiously-motivated violence in Xinjiang has been a cause of concern for Chinese officials. They blame the outlawed East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM, for plotting the terrorist attacks in and beyond the province.
The separatist group was founded by militant Uighurs apparently in response to alleged government restrictions on religious and cultural expression, charges Beijing denies as baseless.
ETIM is believed to have ties with militants operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Gilgit-Baltistan region is the gateway to a massive economic cooperation deal, called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The project is a combination of building roads, rails, economic free zones and power plants in Pakistan with an estimated $62 billion Chinese investment. Thousands of Chinese are currently in Pakistan, working on CPEC-related projects.
The corridor aims to link the Arabian Sea, Pakistani port of Gwadar to Xinjiang through Khunjerab Pass, giving Beijing a secure and shortest trade access to international markets.
Source: Voice of America