The Western Mainstream Media’s infowar about the true state of the anti-terrorist situation in Xinjiang failed after a group of diplomats and journalists were unprecedentedly allowed to visit some of the education and job-training facilities in the strategically located province, after which the weaponized narrative was tweaked to become one of “China buying off Pakistan’s silence”, which dishonestly portrays the Muslim Great Power’s pious leader as a religious hypocrite and dangerously risks provoking terrorist attacks against him and his government.
2018 was predominantly characterized by four main stories for Pakistan – the rise of Imran Khan as Pakistan’s latest Prime Minister; the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) anti-blasphemy protests and subsequently seditious calls for acts of terrorism against the state; the Hybrid War on CPEC that peaked near the end of the year with the Karachi & Chabahar attacks and the first-mentioned mastermind’s assassination in Afghanistan; and the creeping awareness of the Western Mainstream Media’s infowar narrative about China’s alleged treatment of the Uighur in Xinjiang. It’s therefore not surprising that all four of them are still relevant at the beginning of 2019, but there are worrying signs that hostile perception managers are attempting to weave them together as part of a renewed destabilization campaign against Pakistan.
The Hybrid War on CPEC received an unexpected setback after one of the so-called “Balochistan Liberation Army’s” (BLA) top terrorists was assassinated in Afghanistan right before the New Year, which occurred just a few weeks before China’s unpreceded diplomatic and journalistic opening in Xinjiang when it recently allowed members of both professional communities to visit some of its education and job-training facilities that it constructed there as part of its anti-terrorist operations in the strategically located province. Beijing even announced that UN officials are welcome to travel to the region as well, provided of course that they follow the proper procedures and don’t interfere in the country’s domestic affairs. These two developments are the reason why the weaponized narratives that were unleashed against both countries are now being tweaked.
Recognizing that the BLA terrorists were dealt a mighty blow by the recent assassination of one of their leaders and the growing popularity of Dr. Jumma Marri Khan’s Overseas Pakistani Baloch Unity (OPBU) that peacefully reintegrates wayward overseas Baloch into Pakistani society, and realizing that the world is becoming aware of the fact that the scandalous stories about China’s treatment of the Uighur in Xinjiang are fake news, the forces that are hostile to both multipolar Great Powers are scrambling to adapt their infowar techniques to these changed conditions. It’s with this situational context in mind that one should approach the latest claims coming from the popular American-based financial and business news site Business Insider, which just published a very inaccurate portrayal of Pakistani-Chinese relations.
In an article titled “Pakistan abruptly stopped calling out China’s mass oppression of Muslims. Critics say Beijing bought its silence”, one of the outlet’s news reporters attempted to make the case that China paid Pakistan off so that it wouldn’t use its influence in the larger international Muslim community (“Ummah”) to rally its co-confessionals against Beijing’s alleged mistreatment of the Uighur. The author drew attention to a widely publicized fake news report that the country’s Federal Minister for Religious Affairs supposedly brought this topic up in a critical way when meeting with the Chinese Ambassador last September. Both officials later denied the media’s reports about their talks, but the damage was already done because few people who heard the fake news were made aware of their response.
The writer then tried to make it seem like PM Khan was sidestepping the Uighur issue after reminding her audience about Chinese support for Pakistan’s economy, with her innuendo being that “Beijing bought its silence”. She then quotes two people to press home this point, the second of whom is Peter Irwin, who’s described as a “project manager” at the so-called “World Uyghur Congress” (WUC). Unbeknownst to her audience and conspicuously left out of her report, that man functions as a spokesman for an organization that many in China and beyond believe to be the political wing of the so-called “Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement” (ETIM) which was designated as a terrorist group by the UN in 2002. This makes it very disturbing that his words were included by the author in the article’s title.
After declaring that China was “buying the silence of Pakistan”, Irwin goes on to say that “he knows he simply needs to keep his mouth shut”, concluding that “someone like Khan has a very good idea of the balance of power in their relationship with China.” This dangerously insinuates that PM Khan and his government are being paid to stay silent about the plight of Muslims, which would make them religious hypocrites if it was true and accordingly paint them as targets of Takfiri terrorists (i.e. those who target alleged “infidels”/”apostates”). Dolkun Isa, the WUC leader who China regards as a terrorist, recently slammed Muslim countries for not supporting him, so it might be that Irwin was tasked by his boss to weaponize this narrative against Pakistan and PM Khan personally.
This is exceptionally dangerous in the Pakistani context because leaders of the TLP opposition party were arrested late last year on charges of sedition and terrorism after they called on their supporters to commits acts of violence against state officials on the purported basis that they were violating fundamentalist Islamic tenets following the Supreme Court’s acquittal of a Christian woman who was previously convicted of blasphemy during a high-profile case. Some of the group’s most religiously extremist sympathizers inside of Pakistan and abroad might interpret Irwin’s hypocrite/infidel/apostate insinuation that he just spread on the globally famous Business Insider information outlet about the pious Prime Minister as a “call to action”, just like Isa might have planned to happen all along as punishment for Pakistan’s refusal to support his narrative.
The WUC-ETIM’s intention seems to be to rekindle the Hybrid War on CPEC by expanding it beyond its now-contained Baloch “nationalist”-driven acts of terrorism to become an “Ummah”-wide militant jihad against the Pakistani state for its position towards China’s alleged treatment of the Uighurs, which is increasingly being revealed to have been the proper one all along after Beijing’s recent diplomatic and journalistic opening in the province debunked the last year’s worth of fake news about this emotive issue. It’s precisely because it turned out that Pakistan was right all along, and its refusal to fall for this infowar narrative doomed the plans to organize an “Ummah”-wide militant jihad against China, that it’s now being targeted through this desperate Hybrid War scenario.
No one should automatically assume that Business Insider is knowingly acting as an instrument of Hybrid War against Pakistan, and it might just be a coincidence that its news reporter decided to obtain exclusive comments on this topic from an individual representing an organization that Beijing regards as a political front for a UN-designated terrorist group (which she didn’t inform her audience of), but the outlet’s irresponsibly inaccurate portrayal of the country’s relations with China nevertheless advances the aforementioned scenario regardless of its original intent. A globally renowned US-based information platform is openly being used by what many consider to be a terrorist-connected organization to spread its dangerously false innuendo that PM Khan is a hypocrite/infidel/apostate who was paid off by China to remain silent about the supposed plight of fellow Muslims, and that’s extremely alarming.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.