New Delhi: In what appears to be a case of social media hacking, a post from the official Twitter handle of the Pakistan Consulate General in China’s Chengdu claimed Friday that Islamabad and Beijing will continue to work closely on matters of mutual interests, citing the “rights and freedom” of ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang as an example.
The tweet claimed Pakistan’s foreign ministry was thankful to Beijing for providing financial aid and support for flood reconstruction in Pakistan. It added that the two countries will continue to collaborate in areas of mutual interests such as those pertaining to the freedom of Uyghurs.
“MoFA Pakistan is thankful for Chinese aid and support for flood reconstruction. We will work closely on matters of mutual interests including Rights & Freedom of Uyghurs community,” read the tweet.
Subsequently, the spokesperson of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the handle was hacked and the tweet does not reflect the position of the Pakistan government.
The Twitter account of the Pakistan Consulate General Chengdu, China @PakinChengdu has been hacked.
As of today, any tweet or message issued from this account is not made by the Pakistan Consulate General Chengdu nor does it reflect the position of the Government of Pakistan.
— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) January 13, 2023
Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking and mostly Muslim ethnic minority living mostly in northwest China, which is otherwise dominated by the Han Chinese.
The Chinese government has been accused of a series of ongoing human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang, such as heavy surveillance, religious restrictions and forced sterilisations.
Some countries such as the US have termed the situation as genocide and restricted trade of goods coming out of Xinjiang. Beijing, however, has consistently denied these claims.
Pakistan, a Muslim country, has in the past defended accusations against China over its treatment of Uyghurs and other minorities.
Analysts express surprise
Political analysts such as London-based Ayesha Siddiqa and Pakistani journalists such as Mariana Baabar have meanwhile expressed surprise over Friday’s tweet.
— Mariana Baabar (@MarianaBaabar) January 13, 2023
@MarianaBaabar people are wondering why our consulate in Chengdu working for freedom and interests of Uyghurs
— Ayesha Siddiqa (@iamthedrifter) January 13, 2023
Previous Pakistani governments, as well as the current establishment, have long defended China on the issue of Uyghurs.
In July 2021, then Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan told a group of journalists in China that the situation in Xinjiang has been distorted by Western media.
“Our interaction with Chinese officials, that version of what is happening in Xinjiang is completely different to the version of what we hear from the Western media and the Western governments,” Khan had been quoted as saying.
Later in February 2022, when visiting China for the Winter Olympics, the former Pakistan Prime Minister had met Chinese President Xi Jinping, after which a joint statement was released saying: “The Pakistan side expressed its “commitment to One-China Policy and support for China on Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet”.
Last November, during current Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to China, a joint statement was released stating that Islamabad is committed to supporting Beijing “on issues of Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet”.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)