Chinese security agencies have separated women in the country’s restive Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang from their Pakistani husbands and sent them to ‘re-education camps’, The Guardian has reported.
A large number of women belonging to China’s Uighur Muslim minority are married to Pakistani men, who come to the province of Xinjiang for trade. After work on multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor started, the number of Pakistani men visiting the region increased significantly.
Even as it continues to develop the corridor and invest in its “deeper than the deepest ocean, sweeter than honey” relations with Pakistan, China remains wary of the unrest in its Muslim population. A number of separatists and militants from Xinjiang have found refuge in restive parts of Pakistan in the past. Although Islamabad has made efforts to drive out Uighur militant outfits under pressure from Beijing, China has traced back terror attacks in the region to Pakistan-based camps of outfits such as al-Qaeda-linked East Turkestan Islamic Movement.
According to experts, Beijing could have taken this step to make sure that dissidents in the Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, are unable to coordinate with militant outfits based in restive parts of Pakistan.
According to a report by Radio Free Asia, at least 120,000 Uighurs have been placed in “re-education” camps in the province.
At least 50 women married to men from Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan have also been separated from their husbands and sent to re-education camps on charges of extremism. Lawmakers in Gilgit-Baltistan last week demanded that authorities in Xinjiang province immediately release the women.
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