During an Axios interview, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, fell silent on the Uyghur genocide, claiming that any issues Pakistan had with China would “always be behind closed doors”.
When confronted with concerns over the genocide and imprisonment of over a million Uyghur Muslims, Khan rebuked the claim maintaining that “this was not the picture coming from that side”.
On 20 October Khan had penned an open letter calling on Muslim states to “act to counter growing Islamophobia in non-Muslim states” but he himself has been noticeably silent on the persecution of Muslims in both China and Sri Lanka.
During a state visit to Sri Lanka in February of this year, Khan discussed “enhancing bilateral trade and investment between the two countries” but failed to comment on the ongoing discrimination Muslims face in Sri Lanka.
During his Axios interview, Khan maintained, “I concentrate on what is happening on my borders in my country”. Alex Ward, a writer for Vox, argued that Pakistan’s reluctance to address the Uyghur genocide was due to the country’s heavy reliance on China “to prop up its economy”. In 2013, Pakistan received a $60 billion handout from China as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
There is no evidence to support claims by some western politicians that "genocide" was committed against the Uygur community in China's Xinjiang, said Sri Lanka's Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage in a recent interview with Xinhua. #GLOBALink pic.twitter.com/o4N2LpXlHh
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) February 19, 2021
Ward similarly notes China expansion in Sri Lanka with the establishment of the Hambantota port. Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary, and accused human rights abuser, Jayanath Colombage, went further than Khan in his rejections of the Uyghur genocide. Colombage asserted that there was “no evidence” of genocide.
Read more from Vox.