In an assessment conducted to ascertain the mood of Pakistani public on the atrocities against Uighur Muslims by China, the Pakistani government has found growing discontentment and religious journals seething with anger against persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang.
The main objective of the Pakistani assessment was to manage the reaction and control any overt activity that may cause embarrassment for both Pakistan and China on the Uighur issue.
The study noted the treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang has impacted religious opinion in Pakistan with a number of journals covering the development.
In one issue of monthly Ishraq from Lahore, a comment by its patron Javed Ahmed Ghamidi while mentioning about the right to seek refuge gave an example of “persecution of Muslims in China”. An article in weekly Ahl-E-Hadith from Lahore in February of 2020 mentions about state policies of China against its Muslim population and compares it with the severity of Israeli actions against the Palestinians.
The assessment found that discussing Xinjiang in the context of atrocities against Muslims globally has been as a common pattern among religious journals. The editorial of monthly Mohaddis from Lahore in the month of February 2020 commented that Muslims in Xinjiang are living a hard life with Muslim majority decreasing from 94% in 1948 to 48% with them being “forced to abandon Islam”.
An article in the same monthly equated “national interest considerations” forcing Pakistan to be silent on “concerns about Muslims in China” something that also led Islamabad “to facilitate the US against Afghanistan in 2001”.
Two exclusive articles in two religious journals during the time period of the study done by authorities mapped the detailed life in the Chinese province.
Al Burhan published a detailed account of Uighur Muslims in 3 consecutive issues. The account was a personal observation of Pakistani academic about Xinjiang who described the ground situation as “technology-based slavery” and called the province a “police state” with “every home, street and neighbourhood being a detention center, every Uighur a suspect and presumed terrorist”.
The writer pointed out, “systematic effort to sideline Uighur Muslims and their cultural symbols and gradually bring them to extinction”. He also senses frustration among Uighur Muslims from Pakistan as they expected word of sympathy from the country.
Mohaddis in November 2019 had published an exclusive write up with the title “condition of Muslims in Chinese province Xinjiang in the light of international media reports” and states problems for Muslim population started in 1949. It also notes killing of 75000 Muslims by Chinese forces in the province in 1966. The article states that copies of the Holy Quran have been forcibly confiscated and around a million minority Muslims are kept in detention camps.
According to the study, some journals have been raising questions over the silence by Muslim governments.
Monthly Tarjuman Ul Quran from Lahore in December 2019 published an article titled, “attention-seeking issue of Uighur Muslims” says will Pakistani Muslims respect Chinese territorial integrity, they also feel Uighur Muslims should be respected and that will help increase China’s internal security and send a message of goodwill across the Muslim world.
Weekly Al Aitisam from Lahore in February 2020 expressed concerns over reports regarding Muslims in Xinjiang. It noted complete silence and indifference of Muslim governments over the situation of Uighur Muslims.
Dawn in its editorial in November 2020 said, “Like many other countries, Pakistan too has a spotty human rights record, but when it can speak out against the human rights violations of the Kashmiris and the Rohingya, can it stay silent about the Uighurs?”
In the assessment, Pakistani authorities found that prominent religious leaders have commented on the subject. While they are cautious on the issue they expect Pakistani government to raise the concern with the Chinese leadership through diplomatic channels.
One cleric Rashdi in his column titled “Rohingya Muslims and the verdict of the international court of justice” pointed out that Muslim genocide is not confined to Arkan in Myanmar but other parts of the world including Xinjiang.
Renowned scholar Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani in a tweet on December 28, 2019 had said, “News regarding China’s Uighur Community is very disturbing. Government of Pakistan must confirm this news and reach out to Chinese authorities using its influence to win justice for the Uighurs”.
The study comes even as Pakistan government had to face embarrassment over the leaked reports of the Independent power commission that highlighted Chinese companies were charging rates higher than even local Pakistani companies.