On Thursday (May 20), an outspoken Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was taken aback after he was quizzed about the treatment meted out to Uyghur Muslims in China by a CNN journalist. The minister refused to comment on the matter, saying it can’t be discussed in public.
During his interview with CNN, anchor Bianna Golodryga touched upon the contentious issue of Uyghur Muslims. She asserted, “There are 2 million Uyghurs (in China). Many in the US and other countries around the world are calling their treatment ‘genocide’.” Furthermore, she asked, “And I am wondering why we are not hearing the same from your government?”
However, Shah Mahmood Qureshi refused to give any direct answer to the question, and instead said that China is a good friend of Pakistan, hinting that he can’t criticise China over the issue.
“Well, my government has always spoken with factors. You know China is a very good friend of Pakistan. They have stood by us through thick and thin. And we have means of communication. We use our diplomatic channels. We do not discuss everything in public,” Shah Mahmood Qureshi responded. It must be pointed out that the Pakistani government has been outspoken about Charlie Hebdo cartoons in France, raising the Palestine issue, but somehow have decided to not discuss the issue of persecution of Uyghur Muslims by China in public.
When asked about Pakistan’s stand on human rights violations of Uighur Muslims in China.— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) May 21, 2021
Qureshi: “There’s always a way to do things ma’am.” pic.twitter.com/SjY53Fw3OR
“But China being your friend aside… I know China provides a lot of aid. But you can’t just turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in one country,” Bianna Golodryga pressed. “Are there discussions behind the scenes by your Prime Minister Khan?” she inquired. The Pakistan Foreign Minister replied, “Ma’am, there’s always a way of doing things. And we are not oblivious of our responsibilities.”
By not saying anything on the matter, the Pakistani minister made it clear that they can’t comment on the matter as they don’t want to offend China. Pakistan has become very heavily dependent on China for aides and infrastructure projects, and don’t want that to stop.
Pakistan Foreign Minister called out for his anti-Semitic statements
During the same interview, Shah Mahmood Qureshi also managed to elicit a strong reaction from Bianna Golodryga while discussing the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. The anchor, who is Jewish, called the Pakistan Minister anti-Semitic when Shah Mahmood opined during the interview that Israel has “deep pockets” and controls the media. He said that Israel is losing “the media war” in its battle against Hamas, “despite their connections.” Golodryga shot back, saying “What are their connections?”
“Well, you see, the point is, they have a lot of influence, and they get a lot of coverage,” Qureshi said. He diverged saying: “I will not justify any rocket attacks, and I cannot justify, and I cannot condone the aerial bombardment that is taking place.” Few minutes into the interview, when Qureshi suggested how a ceasefire is the only option for Palestinians and Israelis, the Jewish interviewer asked whether the solutions suggested by the Pak minister includes anti-Semitism.
When the minister insisted that he is not justifying anti-Semitic talks, Golodryga retorted at Qureshi by saying that he began the conversation with an anti-Semitic statement. “I am sorry, I am personally offended as a journalist, you started by suggesting that Israel has close and powerful friends in the media. That is an anti-Semitic trope,” said the interviewer.