Pakistan has repeatedly raised concerns about atrocities on Muslims anywhere in the world especially so-called Muslim bashing in India, but Pakistan itself is actively involved in the repression of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China. Pakistan never leaves any chance to denounce other nations for the so-called atrocities on Muslims in those nations but here the country itself has joined China in the exploitation of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
By remaining silent on the violations of the human rights of Uyghur Muslims, Pakistan has so far assisted China obviously because of the large investments China has done in Pakistan for building the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. A Canada-based think tank International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS) has reported that China’s economic rise and presence in Pakistan has given Beijing an unprecedented scope to take off ‘Transnational Repression’ which also includes violation of human rights and persecution of Uyghur minorities in the Xinjiang area. Pakistan is now included in the black list of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region(XAR). China has included Pakistan in the list along with 25 other countries.
What does this blacklisting mean?
According to the think tank, anyone who is from or has visited or has family ties or communications in these blacklisted countries will not be trusted and will remain under the radar of XAR authorities. It must be noted that there has been trans-border commerce between Pakistan and Xinjiang region via the Karakoram highway and Pakistani nationals and Uyghurs have forged marriages. So deporting of Uyghur spouses of Pakistani nationals has become a routine practice. Further, any Uyghur who happens to visit Pakistan and come back, or is even suspected to be a terrorist will be neutralized. Such incidences have happened in the last few years.
One such incident happened with Sikandar Hayat and Ghulam Durrani whose wives were Uyghurs. They had to separate from their wives who were detained in XAR by the Chinese authorities while they were visiting there. Hayat’s son too went to XAR to support his mother but couldn’t meet his father for two years. Durrani’s wife has not returned from detention since 2017.
Pakistan has been insensitively involved in the repression of Uyghurs by China. So much so that in another heinous incident, the Pakistani forces deported 14 Uyghur Islamic students whom China suspected of being terrorists. When handed over to the Chinese authorities at the border, Chinese authorities mercilessly killed those students.
Pakistan is following this practice for many years. The frequency has increased in the recent past. Earlier when there was unrest in Urumchi, many Uyghurs tried to China via Pakistan to Turkey. Pakistan caught them midway and deported them. They were approximately 60 Uyghurs. This incident took place in 2014.
Even before that in 2010, five innocent Uyghurs were deported to China from Balochistan. However, these Uyghurs had no connection with any terror groups.