Beijing: Denying any differences with China on the crackdown of Uyghur militants operating from its tribal areas, Pakistan has said it has eliminated all the members of al Qaeda-affiliated East Turkistan Islamic Movement.
Asked about the separatist outfit East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) which has become very active in China's Muslim-majority Uyghur province of Xinjiang, Pakistan's Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that "we believe they are all eliminated."
Speaking on the sidelines of China's Xiangshan Security Forum, Asif said there were a "small number" of these militants in tribal areas.
"They are all gone or eliminated. There are no more there. It is just as much in Pakistan's interests as China's to fight Uyghur militants," Asif said, denying any differences between "all weather friends" Pakistan and China in addressing the problem.
Xinjiang, which remained restive due to a spate of terrorist attacks allegedly carried out by Uyghur militants, borders Pakistan occupied Kashmir as well as Afghanistan.
"The fight against ETIM is our own fight. It is not only China's fight. It is a joint fight against ETIM, between Pakistan and China, so there is absolutely no difference of opinion on the elimination of ETIM from our tribal areas. We have to be vigilant for a long time that this menace, this infection, does not return," he said.
The ETIM bases in Pakistan came into increasing focus among Chinese leadership as the security situation in Xinjiang deteriorated with attacks both in the province as well as in several cities of China, including the iconic Forbidden city in Beijing resulting in hundreds of casualties.
While pressuring Pakistan to crackdown hard, China, however, publicly praised Islamabad for its contribution to combat terrorism.