Deflection, deceit, bypass and confuse. These four words sum up Imran Khan’s approach towards the persecution of Uighur Muslims in China.
First, he would avoid all questions on the topic. Imran Khan feigned complete ignorance about the issue. He said he wasn’t aware of what was happening to the Uighurs.
Then, he started bypassing the questions. Imran Khan said he didn’t have enough knowledge about the issue. And even if he did — he would never address it in public. Because the Chinese are apparently ‘sensitive people’.
Its been a while and the public sentiment on Uighur persecution in Pakistan is stronger than ever.
So, Imran Khan is now trying to confuse the world regarding his stance. Instead of directly calling out China for its atrocities. The Pak govt is shooting off the shoulders of its citizens.
Islamabad has come up with an internal assessment report on Uighurs. A report which claims to have found “seething anger” against the Chinese regime among Pakistani citizens.
First, the findings.
The study notes that the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang has impacted religious opinion in Pakistan.
Several Islamic journals across Pakistan have been publishing commentary critical of the Chinese regime. Some of them have found a mention in this assessment report.
Here are their names: Ishraq, Ahl-e-Hadith (Hadees), Mohaddis, Peyam, Al Burhan, Al Aitisam (Ahtisam), Uswah Hasana, Tarjuman-ul-Quran and many more journals that have been publishing detailed accounts of the situation of Uighurs.
The articles in these journals describe Xinjiang as a ‘police state’. They call the situation in the Chinese province as ‘technology-based slavery’. They say Beijing is trying to enforce the ‘chinese way of life’ on the Uighurs. And that it is trying to ‘systematically bring the uighurs to extinction’.
And the stories they carry let me tell you are quite detailed. They come with facts and figures on the diminishing population of Uighurs. They talk about the presence of Chinese officials in Uighur homes.
They cite speeches of religious leaders slamming china and centre and they raise questions over the silence of the Pakistan government.
To add to that, the stories these journals carry are published in Urdu. The national language of Pakistan. Naturally, the reach and impact of these journals cannot be downplayed.
Islamabad is aware of this reality. Imran khan enjoys huge popularity among orthodox Muslims in Pakistan. He cannot afford to maintain absolute silence on the Uighurs.
So, this internal assessment report is Pakistan’s attempt at controlling the narrative before it gets too late. So it has conveyed these concerns to China.
It has handed this assessment report to the Chinese mission in Islamabad with some recommendations.
Here are Pak’s suggestions to China:
Pakistan has advised China to come up with ‘confidence building measures’ in Xinjiang.
Islamabad has asked Beijing to get a ‘better understanding of the religion’.
It has asked china to communicate through ‘reliable and mature religious leaders’.
It has advised china to not see the ‘common population of xinjiang as a collective threat’.
Surprisingly, the Chinese regime has responded to these recommendations. But the reaction is not what Pakistan may have expected.
‘Manage negative sentiments domestically’
This is the message that has been sent out by the Chinese mission in Islamabad to the Pak govt.
China said that Pakistan’s concerns on Uighurs are ‘taking the shape of emotions’.
Emotions that could be detrimental to the interest of both countries. Emotions that could take a toll on bilateral ties. Simply put, China wants Pakistan to stop being emotional focus on business and keep its recommendations to itself.
The Chinese like Imran Khan once said — are indeed quite sensitive people.