Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that Pakistan accepted Beijing's version regarding the treatment of Uighurs in China's Xinjiang province.
Speaking to Chinese journalists on Thursday as Beijing marked the centenary of the ruling Communist Party, the prime minister said that the Chinese version was completely different from what was being reported in Western media.
"Because of our extreme proximity and relationship with China, we actually accept the Chinese version."
He said that it was hypocritical that while the Uighur situation and Hong Kong was being highlighted, attention was not being given to the human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.
"It is hypocritical. There are much worse human rights violations taking place in other parts of the world such as in occupied Kashmir. But Western media hardly comments on this," he said.
PM Imran praises Communist Party
During his media talk, PM Imran also praised the Communist Party of China (CPC) for its unique model, calling it an alternative to Western democracy.
"Until now, we had been told that the best way for societies to improve was through Western democracy.
"The CPC has introduced an alternative model and they have beaten all Western democracies in the way they have highlighted merit in society," he said.
He said that a society only succeeds when it has systems in place for holding the ruling elite accountable and ensuring meritocracy. "Until now, the feeling was that electoral democracy is the best way to bring leaders on merit and hold them accountable.
"But the CPC has achieved much better [outcomes] without democracy. Their system for sifting through talent and bringing it up is better than the democratic system," he said.
PM Imran also praised the "flexibility" of the system. "In our society and in Western democracies, it is difficult to bring change as you are bound by rules and regulations," he said, lamenting the fact that democracies only plan for "the next five years".
He said that leaders like Chinese President Xi Jinping worked their way up from the bottom. "One can only become a leader after going through a long struggle. This process is not present in Western democracies. An American president doesn't go through this rigorous process."
He said that when leaders like Xi reach the top, they are able to completely understand the system, a trait that is "unique to China".
'Pakistan will not take sides'
The prime minister also highlighted Pakistan's strong ties with China.
"Whenever Pakistan has been in trouble, politically or internationally, China has always stood with us. The people of China have a special place in the hearts of Pakistanis," he said, adding that relations between the two countries have only gotten stronger.
"You see a strange great power rivalry in the region. The United States is wary of China and has formed a regional alliance called the 'Quad'.
"We think that it is unfair of the US and Western powers to expect countries like Pakistan to take sides," he said. "Pakistan will not downgrade its relations with China."
He added that the idea that India was supposed to act as a counter balance to China would be "detrimental" for the former. "China is too strong. India will reap far greater benefits by engaging in trade with China rather than trying to act as a counter balance. If anyone is going to lose out, it will be India."
He stated that Pakistan's relationship with China had nothing to do with India. "Our relationship is a bilateral relationship. It is extremely strong."
Situation in Afghanistan
Asked to comment on how he saw the situation unfolding in Afghanistan, the premier said: “Unfortunately no one has the answer right now.”
He said that the US trying to find a military solution in Afghanistan was its "biggest mistake". "They kept doing the same thing over and over and over again and thought they would get a different result,” the premier said.
He explained that historically, the people of Afghanistan have been resistant to “being dictated from the outside”. “You can invade Afghanistan, but once you are there it is a very difficult country to control.”
PM Imran said the Afghan war had gone on too long and created deep divisions in Afghan society.
He said that the moment the Americans decided there was no military solution in Afghanistan, they gave a date for the exit and the Taliban considered that a victory.
“Now when they think they have won the war, it is very difficult from Pakistan’s point of view to make them reach a political settlement.”
The prime minister said Pakistan was worried about the possibility of a civil war in Afghanistan. In such a scenario, Pakistan will suffer the most after Afghanistan, he said.
'Pakistan committed to strengthening relations'
The prime minister began his media talk by congratulating the Chinese president and the Communist Party. "In Pakistan, we admire the the Chinese president for two reasons: for his fight against corruption [...] and for bringing people out of poverty."
He said that Pakistan is committed to strengthening relations with China whether it be politically or economically.
"The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project," he said, adding that he will be going to Gwadar next week to oversee development work. He said that he was also looking forward to his trip to China which is in the offing.
Commenting on the economic relationship between the two countries, the prime minister said that he sees this moving forward. "The next phase of CPEC is very exciting for Pakistan. We plan to attract Chinese investment for special economic zones as our labour is cheaper."
He said that Pakistan can learn a lot from China when it comes to agriculture. "China's agricultural productivity is much higher, and I hope that we can benefit from the latest techniques and technology."
He said that despite what the world may think of China due to its economic dominance, it admired President Xi.
"The way China dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic was unique [...] considering that it started there. When you look at the rest of the world, China stands out," he said, adding that Islamabad was grateful to Beijing for the help extended during the fight against the coronavirus.