Imran Khan feigns ignorance about persecution of Uighur Muslims in China 

Islamabad, Sep 14, 2019-

While Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been appealing to the global Muslim community to rise up and censure India over Kashmir, he has surprisingly feigned ignorance of the largescale persecution of Uighur Muslims by close friend China.

Imran, who during his Friday ‘Jalsa’ held in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, ratcheted up his appeal to the international Muslim community to join in the protest over Kashmir, told an international news agency that he doesn’t “really know much about this (Uighur) problem”.

Asked by Al Jazeera that since Pakistan shares a close relationship with China, has he had a chance to discuss the issue of the persecution of Uighurs with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Imran said: “No I haven’t.”

“And frankly, we have been facing so many of our internal problems right now, that I don’t really know much about this problem. And since we have been in power for one year, domestically, apart from the economy, and now with Kashmir, we have been inundated with problems. But I will say one thing for China, for us China has been the best friend.”

To another question that he has faced criticism for not issuing condemnation of China’s treatment of Uighurs, Imran said: “At the moment, my responsibility is the people of Pakistan, and I have 220 million Pakistanis, and they are my responsibility. And my number one effort is to help my own countrymen.”

Pakistan is heavily dependent on China for building its infrastructure and other economic aid. Beijing is building the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a key element of its Belt and Road Initiative that begins in Xinjiang province, the home of the Uighur Muslims.

Xinjiang is known to be rich in resources. The province has an estimated 21 billion tonnes of oil reserves; its coal resources represent 40 per cent of China’s total.

China’s Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighur Muslims.

The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 per cent of Xinjiang’s population, has accused Beijing of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

Up to one million people, or about seven percent of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, have been incarcerated in “political re-education” camps, according to US officials and UN experts.

In a 2018 report, Human Rights Watch accused Beijing of carrying out a “systematic campaign of human rights violations” against Uighur Muslims in the region.

In his Friday ‘Jalsa’, Imran, whose government has failed to get the international community to censure India over revoking of special status for Kashmir, said the Narendra Modi government in India was “giving Muslims the message that this Hindustan is only for Hindus. You are pushing them towards radicalisation and extremism,” he warned.

He alleged that many Muslims are being driven towards extremism due to Modi’s Kashmir policy and “will stand up against Hindustan”.

According to him, “all Muslims are looking towards Kashmir” and were prepared to take up the gun for its sake.  (Agency)

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