ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's National Security Adviser Dr. Moeed Yusuf on Wednesday categorically denied that his country had offered any military bases to China in the province of Balochistan during an interview with an international news channel.
Pakistan and China have been jointly developing the Gwardar port as part of their multibillion-dollar economic corridor project.
While the two countries maintain they are striving for greater regional connectivity by building roads and undertaking other infrastructure development schemes, some foreign think tanks have suggested the project would allow China to maintain its presence in the Indian Ocean's littoral.
"Let me just clarify this," Yusuf told Stephen Sackur while appearing on the BBC HardTalk show. "There are no bases in Gwadar, if you are talking about military bases. Yes, there are economic bases. We have offered them to the US, the Middle East and Russia. Anybody who wants to come and invest in Pakistan, we are open."
He said Pakistan had changed its strategic orientation and was now pursuing its geo-economic interests while trying to maintain cordial relations with all the major powers in the world.
Asked if the administration in Islamabad was reluctant to mention the rights of Chinese Muslims in Xinjiang for geostrategic reasons, the Pakistani official said: "I am amazed at how many times this conversation comes up but there is never a thought about all the human rights issues with Muslims and others that Pakistan keeps raising."
"We do not accept the Western description of Xinjiang," he continued. "That said, if the Westerns states have concerns, they have every right to talk to China."
Yusuf denied there was any moral contradiction in his country's stance when it came to Muslims in Kashmir and Xinjiang.
"When I talk about Kashmir ... I am talking about my people, not foreign people," he said. "I am talking about an illegally occupied territory which is recognized as disputed by the UN. And it is my right to speak about my people."
The Pakistani national security adviser also objected to the description that his country was "aiding and abetting" the Taliban while pointing out that Islamabad consistently objected to the policy pursued by the US and its allies in Afghanistan and told them there was no military solution to the complex problems facing the war-battered country.
He reiterated that Pakistan was "scapegoated" for international failures in Afghanistan.