No talks on Uighurs with China envoy, Pakistan minister says

Pakistani Minister for Religious Affairs met with Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing on Sep. 19, 2018. (Press Information Department)
Updated 22 September 2018

No talks on Uighurs with China envoy, Pakistan minister says

  • Met to discuss exchange program for Muslim scholars from both countries, Qadri says
  • Beijing criticized for alleged rights abuses against ethnic Muslim minority

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Noorul Haq Qadri, on Saturday denied media reports that he had voiced concerns about the Muslim Uighur community residing in China, during a meeting with Beijing’s top diplomat in Islamabad, earlier this week.

China has been widely criticized for alleged rights abuses against Muslims in the Xinjiang province, with reports saying that members of the community are detained, tortured and restricted from practicing their religion freely.

Despite international umbrage over the issue, Pakistan has so far avoided commenting on the matter due to its close proximity with China. “This [the Uighur issue] was not discussed,” Qadri told Arab News while discussing details about his interaction with Ambassador Yao Xing on Wednesday.

He added that, instead, the meeting focused on measures to institutionalize an exchange program for moderate Islamic scholars. “We will soon sign an MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] on the exchange of scholars,” he said, adding that the objective of the proposed program was “to promote moderation”.

So far, the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad hasn’t issued any official statement pertaining to the meeting. However, ministry spokesperson Imran Siddique – in comments made to Arab News earlier – had said that Qadri was interested in China’s curriculum for Muslim students and that the meeting also explored the possibility of development work in Pakistan’s northwestern region which was previously under the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Siddique denied reports that China was planning internment camps for Muslims, saying that the delegation of religious scholars would be able to judge if the Chinese Muslims actually faced serious challenges or not. “China’s enemy is Pakistan’s enemy,” he said, sharing excerpts of Qadri’s conversation with the Chinese envoy. “Pakistan has also taken a clear stance on the economic corridor and maintained that Islamabad will not compromise on the project.”

He added that ambassador Xing was more interested in discussing the deprivations of people in Pakistan’s former tribal territories and looking for ways to address them. He talked in detail about empowering women and girls by way of providing education, medical and health facilities in the area.

Qadri’s meeting with ambassador Xing was held against the backdrop of an interview which saw Prime Minister’s Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood in attendance. Dawood, on his part, suggested that his country could suspend some of the projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for a year to “review or renegotiate agreements” under the arrangement and “get our act together”.

The talks coincided with a meeting between Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and President Xi Jinping, in Beijing on Thursday, wherein they agreed not to compromise on the security for CPEC-related projects.

Chinese officials have always denied allegations that they mistreat the Muslim minority in Xinjiang, with one Bureau of Human Rights Affairs official saying that his country was only educating Muslims to avoid spreading extremism.

Pakistan summons Indian diplomat over cross-border firing

Updated 26 min 39 sec ago

Pakistan summons Indian diplomat over cross-border firing

  • Two children among those killed in Kashmir attack by Indian army, Foreign Office says
  • Islamabad says cease-fire violations are a threat to regional peace and security

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia to lodge a protest against the unprovoked firing by Indian troops across the border in which three civilians, including two children, were killed, the Foreign Office said.

Mohammad Faisal, Director General South Asia, and SAARC further condemned the cease-fire violations by the Indian forces along the Line of Control (LoC) on Tuesday.

“Due to indiscriminate and unprovoked firing by the Indian Army in Nezapir Sector of LoC, three innocent civilians, Ghulam Qaider s/o Lal Din 55 years, Mariam Bibi 12 years and Haider Ali 10 years, residents of village Kirni, embraced Shahadat (martyrdom) while eight others, including women and children, sustained serious injuries,” excerpts from the statement read.

It added that the Indian forces have been consistently targeting civilian-populated areas with artillery fire, heavy-caliber mortars, and automatic weapons.
“The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights, and humanitarian laws,” the statement said, adding that the cease-fire violations are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.

There was no immediate comment from India.

Tensions soared high between India and Pakistan since New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s special constitutional status by abolishing Article 370 of the Indian constitution on August 5.

Islamabad reacted with fury to India’s decision, cutting trade and transport ties and expelling India’s ambassador.