On Thursday, January 13, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry informed that Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, which is due to take place on February 4 this year. The development comes amid reports of a diplomatic snub to the mega event by Western countries including the US, UK, Australia, Canada and Denmark.
According to reports, Khan will pay a state visit to China from Feb. 3 to 5, following an invitation from his Premier Xi Jinping. In a media briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Asim Iftikhar Ahmed said Pakistan and China would discuss the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative and other issues.
It must be said that if athletes from all over the world will participate in the event, dignitaries from Western countries will remain absent. China faces strong criticism from Human Rights Watch (HRW) over atrocities committed against Uyghur Muslims. HRW executive director Kenneth Roth has pointed out that the communist regime wanted to cover up its “horrendous” human rights record by staging the Winter Olympics.
In December last year, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry supported China in hosting the Winter Olympics. In a statement, he said: “Pakistan opposes any form of politicization of sport and hopes that all nations will come together in Beijing and provide their athletes with the opportunity to compete against the best and show off their skills.”
Spokesperson Iftikar Ahmed added: “We are confident that despite the limitations imposed by Covid-19, the Beijing Winter Olympics will deliver a spectacular and colorful gala for sports fans around the world, including Pakistan. “.
Diplomatic Boycott by Western Nations and Chinese Response
Imran Khan had decided to visit China at a time when the communist nation is being held responsible for committing serious human rights abuses, particularly against Uyghur Muslims in the restive Xinjiang province. Amid a bitter trade war between Australia and China, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced in December 2021 that his country would diplomatically boycott the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics over human rights violations. .
Besides the United States and Australia, many other countries are considering boycotting and limiting representation at the Winter Olympics over the issue of human rights violations and the like. China-Australia relations crumbled last year and Morrison said Australia’s move was not surprising. He said human rights abuses in Xinjiang were one of the factors behind the diplomatic boycott.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Canberra countered by saying that some Australian politicians were engaged in political posturing. The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa reacted to China’s isolation. “The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is all about sporting excellence and global unity. Stop using it as a platform for grandstanding and division,” he said.
Furthermore, the Scandinavian country of Denmark had announced that it would join the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics by not sending an official diplomatic delegation to the sporting event over the country’s human rights issues.
“It is no secret that we on the Danish side are very concerned about the human rights situation in China. The government has decided that we will not attend the Winter Olympics in China,” Jeppe Kofod, Denmark’s Foreign Minister, said recently.
Torture of Uyghur Muslims
According to a 2017 report by the director of the Institute of Sociology of the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, the increase in the Muslim population in Xinjiang has contributed to the increase in political risk, poverty and extremism. . One of the reasons cited behind their high birth rates was the Islamic belief that the fetus was a gift from God.
However, experts are of the view that it is a strategy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to strip Uyghurs of their religious and ethnic identity and assimilate them into the dominant Han Chinese ethnicity. While Uyghur Muslims are often subjected to re-education programs, forced labor and digital surveillance, their children are indoctrinated in orphanages.
According to reports, Uyghur Muslims have faced massive repression since 2017. They have been held in prisons for praying, traveling abroad or even using social media under the guise of containing religious extremism. According to researcher Zenz, two counties and townships have ordered authorities to leave no blind spots, contain illegal births and reduce fertility levels.
As such, officials began chasing pregnant women and ordering ethnic minorities to attend flag-raising ceremonies where they were threatened with detention and dire consequences if they failed to register their children. The Associated Press reported that the Chinese government has issued notices to reward people who report illegal childbirth. After flag-raising ceremonies, women were escorted to special rooms equipped with ultrasound scanners to detect pregnancy or undergo gynecological tests.
The intention may not be to wipe out the Uyghur population completely, but it will greatly diminish their vitality, making them easier to assimilate, advised Darren Byler, an expert from the University of Colorado. As for Joanne Smith Finley who works at the University of Newcastle, the draconian measures taken by the Chinese government amount to a slow, painful and creeping genocide.
Pakistan’s Continued Reluctance to Acknowledge Human Rights Violations of Uyghurs in Chinese Xinjiang
While Pakistan presents itself as the leader of the Islamic ummah, it has been dismissive and at times questioned the authenticity of reports of human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority in China’s Xinjiang province. China remains Islamabad’s biggest benefactor, which is on the brink of financial collapse amid a sinking economy. As a result, the monetary and fiscal advantages of aligning with China have caused Pakistan to turn a blind eye to Beijing’s repressive measures against Uyghur minorities.
In June 2021, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was surprised when asked about his country’s blatant silence on the plight of Uyghurs. Speaking to Jonathan Swan, Khan said: ‘What our conversations have been with the Chinese, that is not the case, according to them. When told the evidence was overwhelming, Khan said: “Whatever problems we have with the Chinese, we are talking behind closed doors. China has been one of our greatest friends in our most difficult times. »
“When we were really in trouble, our economy was in trouble, China came to our rescue. So we respect the way they are. And whatever problems we have, we’re talking behind closed doors. How come is this such a big problem in the Western world?” asked the Pakistani Prime Minister. He then cleverly tried to divert the issue from Uyghur Muslims to Kashmiri Muslims and claimed that it was hypocritical that Kashmir not be a problem for the world.
However, this is not the first time Khan has been uncomfortable defending his country’s hypocritical silence on the abject condition of Uyghur Muslims in China. In September 2021, he feigned ignorance when asked about Pakistan’s unusual silence on the Uighur issue. Khan then tried to dodge the issue by saying that China is Pakistan’s “best friend” and issues like these are not discussed in public between the two countries.
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