GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) through a unanimous resolution has called for the federal government to take urgent steps for the release of over 50 Chinese wives of GB men detained in neighbouring Xinjiang province of China.

Over 50 citizens of GB, most of them affiliated with import and export businesses between Pakistan and China, are married to Muslim women in Xinjiang province. The Chinese police have arrested these women.

The resolution was tabled by lawmaker Bibi Salima during the ongoing GBLA session on Friday.

It says that the citizens of the two countries frequently visit each other’s countries via the Khunjerab Pass. There are also many cases of intermarriages between the people of GB and Xinjiang province in which rules and laws of the two countries were followed.

But, the resolution says, last year the Chinese police had started arresting those Chinese citizens who are married to foreigners and among those who have been taken into custody are the women who have married to Pakistani men.

It says many children belonging to GB families have been suffering because their Chinese mothers are under detention in Xinjiang province.

The resolution has demanded that the federal government take up this issue with the Chinese authorities.

Speaking on the resolution, Pakistan Peoples Party member Javed Hussain said that the history of intermarriages between the people of GB and Xinjiang province was decades-old. He said in many cases women under detention in Xinjiang province had travelled to China with their children who were now in China without any help from their families because their fathers were in Pakistan.

He urged the federal government to urgently take up the issue with the China government.

GBLA Deputy Speaker Jaffarullah Khan said that many of these women were arrested on suspicion of their links to religious extremist groups when the Chinese government launched a crackdown on elements involved in religiously-motivated acts of terrorism in Xinjiang province.

But, he added, no one from these women had been found involved in acts of terrorism in China.

The resolution says that the GB is the gateway to Pakistan-China friendship and its people have historical, traditional and cultural relationship with the people of Xinjiang province.

It says the GB people have always respected and provided hospitality to Chinese guests during their stay in the region. They have also played an important role in joint projects launched by the two countries in GB, including Karakoram Highway which has now been declared a route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

It claims that Chinese workers and engineers working in the region have never complained about local people and no untoward incident with Chinese citizens in GB has ever been reported.

The resolution says that the Pakistan-China relationship has become strong due to border trade between the two countries through GB.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2018

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