Imran Khan says Pakistan ‘accepts Chinese version’ as he is accused of ignoring Uyghur plight

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said Pakistan believes China’s version on Uyghurs, despite growing evidence of atrocities and violence in the Xinjiang province.

His comments came as China celebrated the centenary of the Communist Party.

“…Because of our extreme proximity and relationship with China, we actually accept the Chinese version,” Imran Khan said.

The Dawn newspaper reported on Thursday that Mr Khan said that China’s take on the Uyghur issue was “completely different from what was being reported in the Western media.”

He also said that it was “hypocritical” to highlight just the Uyghur situation in Xinjiang, and Hong Kong and not talk about “human rights violations” taking place elsewhere.

“There are much worse human rights violations taking place in other parts of the world such as in occupied Kashmir. But Western media hardly comment on this,” he said.

According to the Uyghurs Human Rights Project (UHRP), Uyghurs are ethnically and culturally Turkic people living primarily in the area of Central Asia they commonly refer to as ‘East Turkistan.’ Xinjiang is the colonial name of the vast region that East Turkistan today covers, the report said.

Mr Khan also praised China’s Communist Party saying that it was a “unique model” and called it an alternative to Western democracy. He told the media: “Until now, we had been told that the best way for societies to improve was through Western democracy. The CPC has introduced an alternative model and they have beaten all Western democracies in the way they have highlighted merit in society.”

In the Xinjiang region in China, more than one million or more people — most of them Uyghur Muslims — have been confined in mass detention camps, researchers have revealed. Beijing has been accused of imposing forced labour, forced birth control, torture and also separating children from incarcerated parents.

However, China has always strongly refused these allegations. China has also claimed that the notorious internment camps are actually education camps that wean Uyghurs away from religious extremism.

Several countries including the US, the UK, the European Union have accused China of committing genocide against Uyghurs. Many countries have also called for an international probe.

Just last month, Mr Khan had said in an interview that he was more concerned about what was happening at the border of his country than his silence on the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China. In the interview, he said that he has been talking to Beijing “behind closed doors” and that he has been informed that this is not the case [that Uyghurs are not facing genocide or any kind of violence from Beijing].

Highlighting Pakistan’s strong ties with China, Mr Khan said: “Whenever Pakistan has been in trouble, politically or internationally, China has always stood with us. The people of China have a special place in the hearts of Pakistanis.” He added that the relations between the two countries have only grown stronger with time.

He also pointed out that no matter what the world thinks of China, it admired President Xi. He said: “The way China dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic was unique… considering that it started there. When you look at the rest of the world, China stands out.”

On 13 May, UHRP released its “Islam Dispossessed: China’s Persecution of Uyghur Imams and Religious Figures” report that cited the case of 1,046 Turkic origin imams being detained in Xinjiang. The organisation alleged that Pakistan is among the countries that have helped China arrest imams in the region.