Pakistan PM Imran Khan refuses to acknowledge China’s repression of Uyghurs

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan gestures during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 4 June 2021.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan gestures during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 4 June 2021. File photo/Reuters/Saiyna Bashir

By Omer Farooq Khan | TNN

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, 22 June 2021

Pakistan PM Imran Khan has defended his silence on reports about “genocide” of Uyghur Muslims in China by claiming that Islamabad discussed such matters with Beijing “behind closed doors”.

He asked why the world was fixated on Xinjiang while “ignoring what India was doing in Kashmir”. “It is much more relevant,” he claimed in an interview with Axios HBO.

The interviewer specifically asked why Khan was so vocal about Islamophobia in the West while remaining silent on the status of Muslims in China’s Xinjiang.

“China has been one of our greatest friends in most difficult times. When we were really struggling, our economy was struggling, China came to our rescue. We respect the way they are and whatever issues we have, we speak behind closed doors,” Khan said.

He branded the West’s dismissal of Kashmiris and their taking up the cause of Uyghurs as “hypocrisy”. “China had informed us that the abuse of Uyghurs being reported in the media was exaggerated,” Khan added.

His comments on China, Xinjiang, the treatment of Uyghur Muslims, J&K and India has sparked a debate on Indian and Pakistani social media, with many netizens criticising his remarks. Some called the comments “total moral cowardice”.

About Pakistan’s expanding nuclear programme, Khan said, “I am completely against nuclear arms. I always have been. The moment there is a settlement on Kashmir, the two neighbours would live as civilised people. We will not need to have nuclear deterrents.”

Khan also drew criticism for his remarks on women. He said “temptation” plays a role in causing violence against women in Pakistan. “If a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact on the men, unless they are robots,” he said.

The interviewer pointed out that Khan’s statement appeared hypocritical as he had spent decades as a “playboy” and was often photographed with women in skimpy garments.

“This is not about me,” Khan responded. “It’s about my society. My priority is how my society behaves… so when I see sex crimes going through the roof we sit down and discuss how to tackle it. It is having an impact in my society.”

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