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Pakistan ignores plight of Uyghur Muslims, calls Xinjiang ‘peaceful’

Uyghur Muslims of China’s Xinjiang province are leading their lives peacefully, said Chairman of Pakistan's Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Mushahid Hussain Syed last week (Photo courtesy: Twitter/@Mushahid)

A Pakistani politician is receiving  high praise from China for his comments on 'economic development and progress' in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, an area in Western China infamous for crimes against humanity committed against Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups.

In an interview to China's state-run press agency Xinhua over the weekend, Chairman of Pakistan's Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Mushahid Hussain Syed had asserted that the Uyghur Muslim community groups in Xinjiang are "leading their lives in peace" and some western politicians are trying to "destabilize" China by peddling fiction.

"I have been to mosques in Kashgar. I have been to the Grand Bazaar at Urumqi. We had music programmes (events), dancing away with different communities who live in Xinjiang involving Uygurs, Han Chinese, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Uzbeks," he said in the interview.

While several governments and human rights groups all over the world have criticised the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) heavily for exhibiting profound hostility and increasingly repressive treatment of the Uyghurs, Sayed sees it as a false alarm.

"Xinjiang is a very pluralistic, dynamic, (and) fast growing region of China, which is the core of the Silk Road Economic Belt. There is an incremental rise in the living standards of the people of Xinjiang, including the Uygur community," the Senator, who also heads a Lahore-based think tank named Pakistan-China Institute, said.  

The comments catapulted his popularity in Beijing which had last month been accused by the United States of committing an ongoing "genocide" against the Muslim Uyghurs and systematically destroying them.

"It has also proven that the lies on Xinjiang concocted by a handful of anti-China elements in the West are nothing but a farce to malign and smear China. Their attempts to interfere in China's internal affairs will not succeed," said Wang Wenbin, the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, on Monday.

China Uyghurs Xinjiang

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) with Shah Mahmood Qureshi, his counterpart from Pakistan

The latest development further strengthens the belief of Uyghurs who have always accused several Islamic nations for largely ignoring the cries of their brethren in Xinjiang. They believe that the silence is a result of massive Chinese investment in various projects, like it is being done in Pakistan through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).  

"Many of the nations which uphold themselves as 'guardians of the faith' are participating in China's Belt and Road initiative, benefiting from Chinese infrastructure investment. These countries see China as an ally over the 'infidels in the West'. Decades of Chinese investment, coupled with a mutual distaste of both India and the USA, have silenced government Pakistan on the Uyghur struggle," the Organization for World Peace, a community of advocates and experts focusing on victims of warfare, mentioned last year.

US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback has also repeatedly called on the Muslim-majority nations to "get their courage back" and confront China which has been accused of detaining one to two million Uyghurs in a network of high-security indoctrination and prison camps in Xinjiang since 2017.

On Monday, the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), in partnership with the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), obtained an authoritative legal opinion on the treatment of Uyghurs by Chinese authorities. In what is the first legal opinion published by barristers pursuant to formal instructions, leading lawyers at Essex Court Chambers (London), led by Alison McDonald QC, conclude that the available evidence credibly establishes that crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide have been committed.

"This is a landmark moment for Uyghurs. This authoritative determination sets out the widespread crimes against humanity faced by Uyghurs and most significantly finds that there is a clear and credible case that genocide is being perpetrated against my people. The finding is clear: there is an intent to destroy Uyghurs," said Rahima Mahmut, UK Director of the World Uyghur Congress.

Ironically, the Pakistani politicians are telling the world at the same time that the region is experiencing peace like never before.