Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused international media of a “double standard”, saying that news outlets give more prominence to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong than to the situation in disputed Kashmir.
In a series of tweets, Khan noted that “occupied Kashmir” was an internationally-recognised disputed territory that had been “illegally annexed” by India, with troops imposing a siege and imprisoning millions of innocent people in their homes.
“I am puzzled as to how international media continues to give headline coverage to Hong Kong protests but ignores the dire human rights crisis in IOJK [Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir] an internationally-recognised disputed territory illegally annexed by India with 900k troops imposing a siege on 8mn Kashmiris,” he wrote on Twitter.
Khan, who returned this week from a trip to Beijing, also told a crowd of roughly 300 people at a rally in Islamabad yesterday that Hong Kong “is a part of China, but this (Kashmir) is a disputed territory”.
“The story of barbarism (in Kashmir) hardly gets reported in international media,” the prime minister said. “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.
Meanwhile, for more than two months now Indian-administered Kashmir has been under a security lockdown after New Delhi scrapped the region’s semi-autonomous status.
The move has angered nuclear arch-rival Pakistan, which also administers part of the territory and, like India, claims it in full.
Khan appeared to minimise 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 Kashmir, Khan 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.
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 say the figure is around 70,000.
The curfew is no longer in effect there, though tens of thousands of extra security forces are still in place, some restrictions on movement remain and communications are still largely blacked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.
Prime Minister Khan, whose government has been criticised 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 1bn (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 1.4bn people, with the US’s 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 1mn 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.
Last week, Khan had said that any one crossing the Line of Control (LoC) from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to provide humanitarian aid or support for the Kashmiri struggle against aggression will play into the hands of the Indian narrative.
In a message shared on Twitter, the prime minister stressed that he understood the anguish of the people of Kashmir who were seeing their brethren across the LoC struggle to deal with an inhumane Indian curfew imposed on them since two months.
“I understand the anguish of the Kashmiris in AJK seeing their fellow Kashmiris in IOJK under an inhumane curfew for over 2 months. But any one crossing the LoC from AJK to provide humanitarian aid or support for Kashmiri struggle will play into the hands of the Indian narrative,” he wrote on Twitter.
Khan further added that the Indian narrative aimed to divert international attention away from the legitimate political struggle of the Kashmiri people for self-determination, and instead labelled it as militancy emanating from Pakistan.
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