Uyghurs in Pakistan
Some members of ethnic minorities of China, primarily Muslim Uyghurs and Tajiks from Xinjiang, have historically migrated to and settled in the northern parts of Pakistan. The earliest migrants, numbering in the thousands, came in as traders during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the area that is Pakistan was still under British rule. Most of these Uyghurs used to have warehouses and residences in towns in the North and in parts of upper Punjab and used to travel between Kashgar and Yarkand and these places, regularly. Others came in the 1940s in fear of communist persecution. A few hundred more fled to Pakistan in the aftermath of a failed uprising in Khotan in 1954. Later waves of migration came in 1963 and again in 1974.
Beginning in the 1980s, Pakistan began to become a major transit point for Uyghurs going on the hajj; the temporary Uyghur settlements that formed there became the focal points of later, more permanent communities, as Uyghurs returning from their pilgrimage or from further studies at schools in Egypt and Saudi Arabia decided to settle down in Pakistan rather than return to China. As of 2009[update], community leaders estimated their total numbers at 3,000 people, with 800 at Gilgit, another 2,000 at Rawalpindi, 100 at the border town of Sust on the Karakoram Highway, and the remainder scattered throughout the rest of the country.
China is suspicious of the Uyghur community in Pakistan, generally viewing them as supporters of the East Turkestan independence movement. Pakistan has given them a friendly reception, but shows a cool attitude towards any promotion of separatism. China claims that members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement have taken refuge in Lahore. In 1997, fourteen Uyghur students with Chinese nationality studying in Pakistan were deported back to China after they organised a sympathy protest in support of riots in Ghulja; Amnesty International claims that they were executed. In 2009, another nine Uyghurs captured in Waziristan were extradited to China.
Many Uyghurs in Pakistan run small businesses. In recent years, they have moved into the import-export field, buying Chinese ceramics, textiles, and other products from Xinjiang for resale in Pakistan. The Uyghur community are usually well-integrated into Pakistani society. Intermarriage is common now, and most prefer to speak Urdu rather than Uyghur. However, there has been some tension over the behaviour of Pakistani men towards Uyghur women.
Omar Uyghur Trust
Omar and Akbar Khan, two Uyghur brothers in Pakistan, set up a cultural organisation, the Omar Uyghur Trust, to educate their community's children in the Uyghur language and culture. The group's organisers claim that the Chinese government has exerted diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to shut them down, and in late 2009 harassed one Uyghur with Pakistani citizenship during his trip to China in an attempt to get him to spy on the group. In April 2010, the founders fled from police in the aftermath of a raid which saw their parents and two younger brothers detained. Again, they did not blame the Pakistani government for the situation, but attributed the action to pressure from the Chinese government.
Pakistan also used to have a number of Uyghur community reception centres. Kashgarabad, located in Islamabad, was run by wealthy Uyghur traders. Anwar ul-Ulum Abu Hanifa Madrassah was run by a man named Sheikh Serajuddin in Rawalpindi. A third, Hotanabad, was also located near Islamabad. Hotanabad was shut down in December 2000, a situation which the Uyghur American Association also attributes to pressure from China. Kashgarabad and Hotanabad both suffered another shutdown in 2006.
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