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US asks China to help fight militancy in Pak

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Concerned over the situation in the Taliban-infested northwest region of Pakistan, the Obama Administration has appealed to China to provide training and military equipment to help Islamabad counter a growing threat of militancy, according to a media report.     

The proposal is part of a broad US push to enlist key allies of Pakistan in an effort to stabilise the country, the 'Boston Globe' reported.     

As part of the US effort to persuade Islamabad to step up action against militants while supporting its fragile civilian government and tottering economy, Richard Holbrooke, America's special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, visited China and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, it noted.     

The American appeal to China to provide training and even military equipment to help its close ally Pakistan underscores that country's importance in security issues, the report said.     

A senior US official, while acknowledging China's hesitation to become more deeply involved, told the paper on the condition of anonymity: "You can see that they're thinking about it."     

US officials believe that China is skilled at counter-insurgency, taking note of the country's lengthy civil war that ended with a Communist victory in 1949. And with China's strong military ties with Pakistan, US officials hope Beijing could help craft a more sophisticated strategy than Pakistan's current heavy-handed approach, the report said.

The Pakistani military has used artillery and aircraft against Taliban extremists in the Swat Valley and surrounding areas in its ongoing offensive. "They're very focussed on hardware," the senior US official was quoted as saying by the paper.     

But, the report pointed out that the UN has estimated that the fighting has forced more than two million civilians to flee.     

About the Sino-Pakistan ties, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, said the two countries have "a time-tested bilateral relationship."     

"The Chinese support and cooperation have been crucial for Pakistan at many difficult times in our history," Haqqani was quoted as saying by the paper.     

"At this moment, too, we continue to look to China as a trusted friend and partner while laying the foundations of a more enduring strategic relationship with the US."

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First Published: Tue, May 26 2009. 14:36 IST