Pakistan’s P.M. minimizes Hong Kong protests, questions why news outlets don’t give more prominence to situation in India-held Kashmir
Prime Minister Imran Khan accused international media on Friday of a “double standard,” saying news outlets give more prominence to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong than to the situation in disputed Kashmir.
Khan, who returned this week from a trip to Beijing, also told a crowd of roughly 300 people at a rally in Islamabad that Hong Kong “is a part of China, but this [Kashmir] is a disputed territory.” He added: “The story of barbarism [in Kashmir] hardly gets reported in international media. So I want to put this double standard in front of the world.”
Hong Kong has been battered by 18 consecutive weekends of unrest, fanned by widespread public anger over Chinese rule and the police response to protests. While for more than two months now India-held Kashmir has been under a security lockdown after New Delhi scrapped the region’s semi-autonomous status. The move has angered rival Pakistan, which also administers part of the territory and, like India, claims it in full.
Khan appeared to minimize the impact of the Hong Kong protests. “As far as I know, till now only a few people have been injured, maybe two or three people have been killed due to accidents” in the strife-torn city, he said. But in India-held Kashmir, he said, “eight million” people were living under curfew, while “100,000” have been killed in the past three decades.
Hundreds have been wounded in the four months of clashes in Hong Kong. One death has been linked to the unrest, when a demonstrator protesting on the side of a building fell during a botched rescue attempt.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people are believed to have been killed since the Kashmir insurgency erupted in the 1980s. New Delhi puts the toll at 47,000, while rights groups hover around 70,000. The curfew is no longer in place there, though tens of thousands of extra security forces are still in place, some restrictions on movement remain and communications are still largely blacked out.
Khan, whose government has been criticized for shrinking press freedoms in recent months, also expressed his frustration with the global community, which has historically stayed out of Kashmir. “I regret that the world only sees that [India] is a country with one billion [people], so they can trade and make money from them, and money is more important for these countries then humans,” he said.
Pakistan calls China, which has invested billions in the country, its “all-weather friend.” Chinese state media has repeatedly warned foreign firms that voicing support for Hong Kong protesters could cost them access to China’s market of 1.4 billion people, with the NBA the latest to be targeted.
China has also defied escalating global criticism over its treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang province, where rights groups say one million people have been put in re-education camps. Pakistan, which borders Xinjiang, has shrugged at the accusations. “Frankly, I don’t know much about that,” Khan told the Financial Times in March.