China arrests women married to men from Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan govt silent

The Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA), a local administrative unit in the region controlled by Pakistan, has passed a resolution demanding the federal government in Pakistan to take steps to release over 50 women allegedly detained in China, just because they are married to men from the region.

The resolution was passed unanimously on 2nd March. As per reports, the women are married to men in the Gilgit Baltistan region and are currently detained in the Xinjiang province in China as the communist state suspects people from the region involved in extremist and terrorist activities in Xinjiang.

GBLA member Bibi Salima had tabled the resolution in the ongoing session of the Legislative Assembly. The resolution states that the citizens of the two countries frequently visit each other through the Khunjerab pass. There are many cases of marriage between the people from Gilgit Baltistan and Xinjiang region and laws of both the regions were followed. The resolution further adds that last year the Chinese authorities had started arresting people married to foreigners and among those were the wives of the Gilgit Baltistan men (mostly traders) who were visiting their relatives at that time. The women arrested have children back home in Gilgit Baltistan and those children have been suffering as their mothers are detained by China.

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Deputy Speaker of the GBLA Jafarullah Khan stated that the women have been arrested on suspicion of terror links. The resolution demanded that the government of Pakistan should take this matter up with the Chinese authorities. However, the government of Pakistan has not spoken up on the matter in the last four days.

Xinjiang province in China has a significant Uighur Muslim population and in the past years, the Uighur founded East Turkistan Islamic Movement has been involved in several terror attacks in and beyond the region. The ETIM is also believed to have a support base in Islamist terror groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan. China is known to have launched a severe crackdown on these religious terror groups.

The Gilgit Baltistan region is extremely important territory for both the countries as it is the gateway to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which has seen a 62 billion USD investment by the Chinese. Currently, there are thousands of Chinese working in Pakistan.

Not only on this issue, Pakistan has earlier kept mum on reports of crackdown on Islamic rituals in China, perhaps in their zeal to become a ‘trusted ally’ of China in wake of USA dumping them.

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