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ISLAMABAD: Prime minister offered Friday prayers in China’s Xinjiang province, as he became one of the few leaders of an Islamic nation to visit the region since more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities there were swept into detention facilities.

Caretaker prime minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar travelled to China to take part in a summit hosted by President Xi Jinping in Beijing this week to celebrate his Belt and Road Initiative, a vast trade and infrastructure project.

On Friday, he offered prayers at the main mosque in the city of Urumqi, the capital of the northwestern region, and addressed a gathering of students and scholars.

He “lauded the strategic significance of Xinjiang as a frontier of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”, said a statement from his office.

Since its initiation in 2013, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has seen tens of billions of dollars funnelled into massive transport, energy and infrastructure projects — including plans for a railroad from Xinjiang to the Pakistan coast.

“Pakistan has consistently adhered to a policy of non-interference in China’s internal affairs and has lent its support to China in achieving its foreign policy objectives,” Imtiaz Gul, analyst and executive director for the Center for Research and Security Studies in Pakistan.

“Any concerns related to human rights, such as the situation of the Uyghur population, are considered the internal affairs of Beijing.”

Pakistan’s leaders, however, frequently raise the alarm about rising Islamophobia in the West as well as the rights of Palestinians and Kashmiris.

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John Oct 21, 2023 09:02pm
Nice optics! But no cigar!
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