China moves to defend Pakistan after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused Islamabad of nurturing terrorists and sponsoring cross-border terrorism.
Responding to a question about Modi's remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Monday defended Islamabad’s record in fighting terrorism.
"Everyone knows that India and Pakistan are victims of terrorism. Pakistan has made huge efforts and great sacrifices in fighting terrorism. I think the international community should respect this," Hua said, adding, "We also oppose the linking of terrorism to any specific country, ethnicity or religion. This is China's consistent position."
In unprecedented and harsh remarks during a meeting on Sunday of leaders from the BRICS group of countries, which also include Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, in the western Indian state of Goa, Modi said India’s neighbor has become the main breeder of terror activities and branded Pakistan as ‘mother-ship of terrorism.’
“Tragically, the mother-ship of terrorism is a country in India's neighborhood,” Modi said without directly naming Pakistan.
In recent weeks, the Indian premier has stepped up his drive to isolate Pakistan by highlighting the country’s alleged role in sponsoring terrorism.
Tensions have escalated between nuclear arch-rivals India and Pakistan since 19 Indian soldiers were killed in a September 18 attack on Uri army base in Kashmir, near the disputed frontier with Pakistan. India accused Pakistan of carrying out the attack, which was the worst such assault in 14 years.
The attack on the Indian army base has triggered a war of words between the neighbors. India says the attackers were affiliated with a militant group based in Pakistan. Islamabad has rejected India's claims as "unfounded and premature."
India has long accused Pakistan of backing militant groups operating in Kashmir with Premier Modi accusing Pakistan of "exporting terrorism."
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has accused India of engagement in an “unprecedented arms build-up” along the de facto border dividing Kashmir.
Kashmir has also witnessed an increase in mass protests over the killing of a pro-independence figure in early July. Tens of thousands of Indian government troops have been deployed to Indian-controlled Kashmir and over 80 people have lost their lives in the ensuing crackdown.
China has long been a strong military, economic and diplomatic supporter of Pakistan amid a border dispute between Beijing and New Delhi.
Last year, officials from Beijing and New Delhi pledged to settle the border dispute, which dates back to a brief border war in 1962.