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Snubbed Pakistan Remains Impervious

February 10, 2020 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd) Photo(s): By / Ron Przysucha/Public Domain
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while launching the 27-nation International Religious Freedom Alliance on February 5, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while launching the 27-nation International Religious Freedom Alliance on February 5, 2020 commented, "We condemn terrorists and violent extremists who target religious minorities whether they are Yazidis in Iraq, Hindus in Pakistan, Christians in northeast Nigeria, or Muslims in Burma." Pompeo further said, "We condemn blasphemy and apostasy laws that criminalise matters of the soul. We condemn the Chinese Communist Party's hostility to all faiths. We know several of you courageously pushed back against Chinese pressure by agreeing to be part of this Alliance, and we thank you for that". Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Israel, Ukraine, the Netherlands and Greece are among the prominent countries to join the alliance.

According to a senior State Department official, participating countries are to discuss the kind of areas that they are going to work and focus on, by saying, "The areas will include things like technology and religious oppression, blasphemy and apostasy laws, for instance. The toolbox will include things like, whether it's putting out statements, actions that can take place in international bodies that the group can come together and hopefully come behind, the possibilities of sanctions being used". It may be recalled that in September 2019, Alice Wells, US Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, during a special briefing at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly had criticised Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for not speaking out against China, which has detained an estimated one million Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims in Xinjiang province. The US asked Pakistan why it is only bothered about the human rights of Muslims in Kashmir and is not highlighting the "horrific conditions" that continue to exist for the members of the community throughout China. Alice Wells said, "I would like to see the same level of concern expressed also about Muslims who are being detained in Western China, literally in concentration-like conditions. And so being concerned about the human rights of Muslims does extend more broadly than Kashmir, and you've seen the administration very involved here during the UN General Assembly and trying to shine a light on the horrific conditions that continue to exist for Muslims throughout China."

At the World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2020, a reporter similarly questioned Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan why he was mum on China's persecution of Uighurs. Imran first deflected the issue by saying he did not "know much about" the scale of the abuse but then sheepishly acknowledged that Pakistan's special relationship with China played a part in his response to the Uighur crisis, by saying. "China has helped us," Khan said. "They came to help us when we were at rock bottom, and so we are really grateful to the Chinese government." Imran Khan has been working feverishly to garner support over Kashmir, particularly with Recep Tayeb Erdogan of Turkey and Mahatir Mohamad of Malaysia, which has not been looked at kindly by Saudi Arabia. Imran of course has no alternative from playing poodle to Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan army chief who wanted a triangular Pakistan-Turkey-Malaysia fundamentalist coterie for his anti-India campaign over Kashmir following Erdogan and Mahatir's unsavory remarks against India. Reading the signals from Saudi Arabia, Imran skipped the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) emergency meeting at Malaysia in December 2019 but later went on a two-day visit to Kuala Lumpur on February 3-4 to make up with Mahatir. The summit in Kuala Lumpur was seen by the Saudis as an attempt to create a new bloc in the Muslim world that could become an alternative to the OIC led by the Gulf Kingdom. Despite Pakistan's economy being in dire straits, Imran offered to buy palm oil from Malaysia since India had cut down its imports because of Mahatir's anti-India stance.

Pakistani media had earlier reported that Saudi Arabia is reluctant to accept Pakistan's request to immediately convene a meeting of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on Kashmir. Imran is pulling his hair in rage over failing to garner support for OIC's CFM meeting. Referring to the silence of the 57member bloc of Muslim countries on Kashmir while addressing the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), Malaysia, Imran said, "The reason is that we have no voice and there is a total division amongst us. We can't even come together as a whole on the OIC meeting on Kashmir." The joint Pakistan-Malaysia statement at the end of Imran's visit did mention Kashmir, which was slammed by India saying the Malaysian leadership should develop a better understanding of facts and acknowledge that Pakistan remains an epicentre of global terrorism. But there is little chance of Pakistan changing its stance. Tehreek-i-Insaf (Imran Khan's political party) recently put up banners in Lahore for an event reading "Hindus cannot be reasoned with using words but by force." The banners also featured images of Imran Khan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (founder of Pakistan) and Usman (general secretary of Tehreek-i-Insaf). There are also reports that Pakistan is using Taliban cadres to demonstrate support for Kashmir. Why Pakistan remains impervious to international pressure against its terror generation is the staunch support it has from China. American policy towards Pakistan too is riddled with Trump's moods and the required pressure on Pakistan through sun-conventional operations is totally absent. Therefore the current state of affairs is likely to continue.