Imran meets Xi, Beijing cries foul over Kashmir. But Pakistan’s silence on Uyghur Muslims is deafening

Imran Khan (left) with Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of People in Beijing on Sunday| Credits: Facebook /@ImranKhanOfficial

Imran Khan (left) with Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of People in Beijing on Sunday| Credits: Facebook /@ImranKhanOfficial&  | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspFacebook

It was an opportunity too hard to miss. The ongoing Winter Olympics in Beijing presented China and Pakistan to renew the foundation of their relationship — India bashing. Predictably, they fell back on a playlist of their all-time hits, with Kashmir taking pole position again, even as both studiously avoided any mention of China’s restive Xinjiang region.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan was on a four-day visit to attend the opening ceremony of the 2020 Beijing Winter Olympics. While he was there, he met the top Chinese leadership including his all-weather ally President Xi Jinping and virtually met the Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) — China’s apex planning body — He Lifeng. The meeting seems to have been productive in terms of the expansion of Chinese investments in Pakistan. According to Pakistan’s state-run Associated Press of Pakistan news agency, State Minister and Chairman of Board of Investment Muhammad Azfar Ahsan signed the Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation with He. The agreement aims to attract FDI, promote industrialisation and development of economic zones, and initiate, plan, execute and monitor projects — both in the public as well as the private sector — in Pakistan.

According to reports, China has pledged closer cooperation with Pakistan under the USD 60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) investment programme. Khan was all praises for the project, saying that it has strategic significance for both the countries and delivers tangible benefits. Incidentally, Khan was among the strongest critics of CPEC before coming to power, constantly dissing the project for its secrecy and uneven investments neglecting certain provinces of the country.

But that was not all. Pakistan PM’s visit that ended on Sunday saw the Xi-Khan bonhomie, with both soundly bashing India over the Kashmir issue. According to state-run Xinhua news agency, Beijing “reiterated that the Kashmir issue was a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.” It further said that Beijing opposed any “unilateral actions” that could complicate the situation. On his part, Imran Khan highlighted the “atrocities being perpetrated in Kashmir and the persecution of minorities in India in advancing the Hindutva mindset of RSS-BJP was a threat to regional peace and stability,” according to a report in Pakistani newspaper The News International. The report further quoted Imran Khan saying that “Rapid militarization of India was undermining regional stability.”

“The Pakistan side briefed the Chinese side on the latest developments on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, including its concerns, position and pressing issues at the moment. The Chinese side reiterated that the Kashmir issue was a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation,” said a joint statement issued on Sunday, at the end of Khan’s visit to China.

He did not stop with India bashing. The obsequious Khan went to great lengths singing China’s praises, thanking Beijing “for its unwavering support to Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and national development.”

The US and its allies might have diplomatically boycotted Beijing Winter Olympics, but not Imran Khan. Praising Chinese leadership for hosting the Olympics, Khan went the extra mile in returning Xi’s favour for condemning India. He said that he supported Beijing on the Xinjiang issue even as the world has been voicing its concerns about human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Khan also expressed his commitment to the One-China Policy — Beijing’s position that there is only one sovereign state under the name China, and that Taiwan is part of China. He also backed the communist regime on the South China Sea.

While flattery is common in diplomacy, Imran Khan choosing to turn a blind eye to the plight of fellow Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is nothing but blatant sycophancy fuelled by avarice. 

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