BEIJING: China reaffirmed its support on Thursday for efforts by its ally Pakistan to combat terrorism after the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by US forces, and urged the world to help Islamabad.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu stopped short of directly criticising the daring raid by US special forces on Pakistani soil that ended with bin Laden's death but said national sovereignty “should be respected” at all times.
“Pakistan is at the forefront of the international counter-terrorism effort. The international community should understand and support Pakistan,” Jiang told a press conference.
“We support Pakistan's position and understand and support Pakistan formulating and implementing a counter-terrorism strategy based on its national conditions.”
Since Sunday's raid, Pakistan has been on the defensive over its failure to find bin Laden, who was living in a compound near the country's top military academy in Abbottabad.
Islamabad has rejected those criticisms, with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani saying that the United States and other countries shared the blame for not finding bin Laden sooner.
Gilani on Wednesday called on the “entire world” to help Pakistan fight terrorism and extremism - a call quickly answered by its close ally Beijing.
“We believe that terrorism is a public enemy of the international community and the international community should work together to combat the potential terrorist threat,” Jiang said.
“A holistic approach should be taken to address the symptoms and causes of terrorism and eliminate the breeding grounds.” Earlier this week, Jiang called the death of bin Laden a “positive development in the international anti-terrorism struggle” but on Thursday, she suggested China did not necessarily approve of US methods.
“We uphold that countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected,” the foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
Islamabad has complained that the US military raid was unauthorized and unilateral, and should not set any precedent, but US President Barack Obama has said he reserves the right to target fugitives in Pakistan in future.
CIA director Leon Panetta said that the United States chose not to alert Pakistan of the operation on its soil for fear that officials may have alerted the al Qaeda chief - evidence of Washington's uneasy ties with Islamabad.