Imran Khan on Uighur Muslims genocide: 'China one of the greatest friends’

Updated on Jun 21, 2021 04:28 PM IST

In a recent interview with a journalist, Imran Khan was questioned on why he was silent on the atrocities on Uighur Muslims in China while being vocal about Islamophobia in the West.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.(AFP)
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.(AFP)
By | Written by Shivani Kumar | Edited by Avik Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan refused to comment on the treatment of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region in western China by the XI Jinping government and said the situation in Kashmir is "far more relevant".

In a recent interview with a journalist, Imran Khan was questioned on why he was silent on the atrocities on Uighur Muslims in China while being vocal about Islamophobia in the West. To which, Khan answered saying that "he is more concerned about what is happening at the border of his country." The Pakistani PM also said that he has been speaking about this with the Chinese people "behind the closed doors;" and as long as he has been informed, "this is not the case, according to the Chinese people."

The journalist, Jonathan Swan of Axio, asked why he felt a need to write a public letter about "Islamophobia" in the West? "It happened after the 9/11 attack when the word Islam terrorism came into existence,” Khan said, adding, "The moment you say Islamic terrorism, the man in the street in the West thinks there is something in Islam that leads to terrorism. Or Islam causes radicalism."

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In the question, Swan was referring to the letter, Khan wrote in October last year to the leaders of Muslim-majority countries to draw attention to the "increasing Islamophobia that is spreading in European countries where sizeable Muslim populations reside".

The journalist then asked Khan about the atrocities of Uighur which is happening just "across his border" and he is so outspoken about islamophobia in Europe and the United States and silent on the treatment of Muslims in western China?

"What our conversations have been with Chinese, this is not the case," Khan said in response. "Whatever issues we have with Chinese, we speak to them behind closed doors. China has been one of the greatest friends to us in our most difficult times. China came to the rescue when our economy was struggling," he also said.

Khan went on to say that he doesn't comment on what's going on in other countries because he's more concerned with what's going on in his own nation. "I look around the world, what is happening in Palestine and Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan. Am I going to start talking about everything? I concentrate on what is happening on my border in my country," he said.

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"It is much more relevant compared to what might be going on with Uighur," insisted Khan. "100,000 Kashmiris have been killed. There are 800,00 Indian troops are there. It is an open prison there and 9 million Kashmiris are put there. Why this is not an issue. I think it is hypocrisy," he alleged.

Over the last two years, multiple reports from Xinjiang have emerged proving that the central government in China is carrying out forced labour and sterilisations on Uighur in an exercise dubbed as a "campaign against terrorism." Activists and some Western politicians have been raising voice against the same as they accused the Chinese government of torturing Uighur in so-called education camps and destroying mosques.

Earlier this year in March, in rare US bipartisan agreement, the top diplomats of the former administration of Donald Trump and the new one of Joe Biden called China’s treatment of the Uighurs 'genocide' in line with a stance of Canadian and Dutch parliaments.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has denied the allegations and said that "some anti-China forces ignore facts and truth and wantonly fabricate all kinds of Xinjiang-related lies." "People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, including Xinjiang women, live and work in peace and contentment," the Chinese foreign ministry said in March as allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang mounted.

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