Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday called out the apparent double standards of the West while commenting on its criticism of China over the Uighurs in Xinjiang and observing ‘selective silence’ for people living in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir which has been turned into “open prison”.
“What we in Pakistan find it very difficult to swallow is while they talk about Uighurs, they do not much talk about Kashmir in the West because in Kashmir the worst human rights violations are carried out by India,” he said during an interaction with Chinese media in Islamabad.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf were also present.
The PM said this in response to a question from a reporter from a Chinese media outlet about the West’s “so-called criticism” of China over the Uighurs in Xinjiang. He had also asked about the country’s ambassador’s visit to the Chinese city.
“And, somehow there is a selective silence about human rights in Kashmir, where some nine million people are basically living in almost an open prison manned by 800,000 Indian troops. We find it very difficult [to believe] that while on one side, they [the West] talk about Xinjiang but on the other this silence on Kashmir is deafening for us,” PM Imran said.
The premier added that the government had asked its envoy to China, Ambassador Moinul Haque, to visit Xinjiang following criticism about the treatment of Uighurs.
The envoy informed us that the criticism was “actually not true on the ground.”
In the last interview with Chinese journalists on July 1, 2021, PM Imran had said Pakistan accepted Beijing’s version regarding the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang because of the “extreme proximity and relationship with China.” That time, PM had also highlighted the Kashmir issue.
Moreover, PM Imran is about to leave for China on February 3 to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022. During the interview, the premier expressed his eagerness to attend the mega sports event. "Despite being a sportsman for 20 years, I have never witnessed such an event."
The prime minister said the government was planning to promote skiing in Gilgit Baltistan and some other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that had ideal skiing locations, adding that it would be looking towards Chinese cooperation as the country had performed well in the winter sports.
On Saturday, journalists also posed several questions to the premier pertaining to bilateral ties and regional situation.
Situation in Afghanistan
To a query regarding Afghanistan, the prime minister said the war-torn country had suffered for the last forty years as foreign powers had turned its soil into a battleground.
“The international community did not think of the Afghans after the foreign troops’ withdrawal. They did not think how these impoverished people would survive,” he said and recalled that there was utter chaos and casualties when the Soviets left Afghanistan.
“Now everyone abandoned Afghanistan. I am talking about 40 million Afghan people currently facing the worst humanitarian crises,” he said, warning that the same chaos could return to Afghan soil which occurred after the Soviet pullout.
PM Imran urged the international community to focus on the welfare of Afghan people irrespective of their like or dislike for the Taliban.
About the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the prime minister said that its first phase was focused on connectivity and energy sector, but now they were developing special economic zones and agriculture. He said the government was also seeking Chinese cooperation to help improve their productivity, crops yield and livestock, citing the latest varieties of cotton crop as developed by China.
PM Imran also talked about the incumbent government’s policy shift to geo-economic. “Economic growth is a must for alleviating poverty,” he said, adding that the government would also pay attention to its security but economy-based growth would be focused.
He praised the Chinese government’s efforts to taking “700 million people out of poverty” during the last thirty or forty years and touted it as a “huge achievement had never happened” before in the human history.