A Chinese woman, Jiang Hua (姜华), was killed last week in Kohati Bazar, a famous public Market in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan. This is not the first time that Chinese citizens were killed in Pakistan. From 2004 to 2012, more than 10 Chinese citizens were assassinated in Pakistan, noticeably in the Baluchistan region. However, what is new about this particular killing is Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), for the first time, claimed to avenge the mistreatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang under Chinese domestic policies.
The killing raises hot debates among concerned scholars and experts on Xinjiang and even on Afghanistan-Pakistan studies. Many attribute the killing to the traditional practice of misogyny popular among extremists in this Afghanistan-Pakistan area. Given the fact that this woman did not speak local languages and was accompanied by a non-relative male interpreter, this culturally explains the occurrence of the tragedy.
Many Pakistanis, however, see the violence from a political point of view and tend to deploy conspiracy theories to explain the occurrence. They believe that the killing of the Chinese citizen was done by India’s RAW, which was hired, if not organized, by so-called Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in China-Pakistan borderlands.
These arguments and explanations to some extent illuminate the cultural sensitivity and political complexity of any violence involving foreigners in the region. However, they neglect the degree of sincerity and severity of the statement issued by a “Taliban” spokesman in which he claimed that the killing of the Chinese citizen was to avenge for China’s suppression of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
It is hard to verify the TTP statement regarding the reason behind the killing given the complex religious, ethnic, national, and even international politics in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. However, interesting enough, this statement to some extent, substantializes what so-called Turkistan Islamic Party claimed last year. In a video entitled “突厥斯坦圣战者向中国人民的一封信”in its Chinese version (interestingly, its Uyghur language version seems to be translated from the original Chinese version) released in April 2011 (posted by jihadology on 23 May 2011) by the Propaganda Section of the Voice of Islam or Islam Awazi (伊斯兰之声宣传中心), a member named Faruq (or Qarug?) Tursun (帕如哈土尔逊).
Faquq lists many crimes that the Chinese Communist Party has committed in Xinjiang including the so-called “anti-terror” campaign, family plan policy, nuclear test, so-called development of northwest, the so-called spiritual liberation, bilingual education, Shaoguan event, 7/5 event, gas transportation, immigration of Han to Xinjiang, emigration of Xinjiang women to interior regions, and arrest and prosecution of the faithful Uyghurs.
After listing Chinese crimes, this video also attempts to show the support of international Jihadism to the Uyghur causes by citing words or statement from mujahidin representatives. These representatives include the so-called Al Qaeda spokesman (Abud Yahya) , the “伊拉克伊斯兰国家圣战者” ( Mujahiddin of Islamic Iraq?), and Middle East TV shows that criticize Chinese policies and practices in East Turkistan. Although in this video, no specific Pakistan Taliban is mentioned, the occurrence of the violence against Chinese citizen in Peshawar and the following statement of the Taliban spoksman seem to reinforce the TIP claim that more and more international Mujahidin have supported their cause.
If the authenticity of the TTP statement after the killing of Jiang Hua has been verified, then it indicates that the Chinese domestic harsh policies towards the Uyghurs in Xinjiang have yielded cruel practices. It also is a harbinger that the formation of an international mujahidin movement is highly possible if China continues its current campaigns and policies in Xinjiang and the situation in East Turkistan deteriorates.