China has invested in the economic development of Pakistan in a manner that ensures the political stability of Pakistan

The historic “all-weather friendship” between Pakistan and China has provided Pakistan the much-required regional security since its inception, which can be marked by the ratification of Sino-Pak 1963 border agreement. Since the agreement, China has provided help to Pakistan on various levels, varying from diplomatic support to military equipment.

China has invested in the economic development of Pakistan in a manner that ensures the political stability of Pakistan. Especially with the CPEC, now being built at a cost of $62 billion from the Karakoram mountains in the north, originating from Qashgar in Xinjiang to the Gwadar port at the Arabian Sea, Pakistan is even more indebted to China for all manner of reasons. On the other hand, China sees Pakistan as a strategic partner. With its help, China is expanding its regional dominance by countering India and also stretching its outreach till the Arabian sea.

China has always followed a Machiavellian style of politics in both internal and external affairs. After becoming a republic in 1949, the PRC has followed a ruthless iron fist policy to integrate Xinjiang and Tibet under its control. Xinjiang, earlier known as ‘East Turkestan’, has been tactically occupied by China by infusing Han population there and then by persecuting the dissentious Uyghur Muslims over a long period of history.

When it comes to Pakistan – world’s first avowedly Islamic State, it becomes very tricky to balance its role as an Islamic State and China’s indebted ally. Pakistan has always projected itself as the voice of the oppressed Muslims – the Rohingya in Myanmar, in Chechnya by the Russians, Bosnian Muslims rebelling against Serbs- except in China. Henceforth, the Pakistan’s dubious standards are linked with its political security dilemmas which would grapple if it dares to challenge China over the Uyghur issue. Xinjiang is at the heart of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). As it is the main port for all of China’s interactions with Europe, the Chinese are doing everything in their capacity to keep it calm and quiescent. A massive propaganda exercise is underway to demonstrate that the Silk Road Economic Belt, BRI’s most visible leg that passes through Xinjiang to and from Europe, is a peaceful and stable route.

Therefore, if Pakistan dares to challenge China over the issue of the persecution of the Uyghurs, China would consider it as an intrusion in the matters of internal security, which can have serious ramifications for Pakistan. Considering, the rising debt load on Pakistan which it has to pay back to China because of the CPEC investments, Pakistan cannot take such risks. However, even if we discount Pakistan over the current quagmire it is trapped into, historically too, Pakistan has picked up China’s alliance over Islamic moral conscience. As China has been oppressing the Uyghurs since 1950s, choosing China over the Uyghurs have always been Pakistan’s preference because Pakistan’s foreign policy has primarily revolved around thwarting the Indian threat.

As Gilbert K. Chesterton said – “We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbor.” Neither Uyghurs nor Indians can change their neighbors, that’s God’s will.

However, one is free to choose their friends. Pakistan has always weighed economic and strategic benefit when it comes to its own survival. Standing for fellow Muslim brethren in neighboring countries is a mirage which is shiny and visible from a distance but can never be materialized.

The age-old concept of an Islamic State fighting for oppressed Muslims all over the world is long gone with the fall of the Osmani Khilafah (although the welfare State model is debatable). This leaves us with a fundamental question- if Pakistan, a dying nation with the excessive burden of mounting debts, has preferred to remain silent over persecution of Uyghur Muslims keeping economic and strategic details in mind, would it ever be vocal for Muslims around the world when it is fighting for its own survival?





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