On Thursday’s weekly briefing, Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria claimed that the Saudi Arabian monarch, King Salman had apologized to Nawaz Sharif for not giving him a chance to speak at the US-Arab summit held last week in Riyadh.
The FO representative stated, “Due to the shortage of time, leaders of 30 countries could not address the summit and King Salman has apologized to all the attendees for it.”
The Prime Minister has been the target of much ridicule after his return from Saudi Arab because of the cold shoulder given to him by Saudis and President Trump.
The headline “Saudi King apologized to Nawaz for snub at US-Arab-Islamic summit” is trending right now on Pakistani online news publications but the fact is that no such statement has been made public by the Saudi government and international media outlets have reported nothing to back up the claims of Mr. Nafees.
Read More: The reason why Trump ignored Pakistan
The headline is also misleading as it implies that King Salman directly addressed PM Nawaz Sharif when in reality the FO representative’s statement says that the purported apology was directed at all attendees.
The Prime Minister has been the target of much ridicule after his return from Saudi Arabia because of the cold shoulder given to him by Saudis and President Trump.
However, this explanation from the Foreign Office about Saudi King apologizing doesn’t really add up. A summit of such significance is planned months in advance, this includes details of who will speak and for how long, in what order, who will sit with whom and so on. Hence, the argument that “there wasn’t enough time” as if the King was not aware of the timings allocated to each speaker does not make sense.
Journalists traveling with the Prime Minister have confirmed that a speech had been prepared and the PM was expected to speak at the summit. The question is, was the PM informed of a speaking slot by the Saudis when they invited him or did he assume he was going to get the chance to address the summit. The latter would have been a reasonable assumption given the fact that Pakistan has the largest standing army in all of the Islamic world and has sacrificed 70,000 lives in the war against terror; a speaking slot is not a big ask.
Representatives of Pakistan were largely ignored at the international summit. In addition to the PM not being allowed to speak at the summit, the President of the U.S failed to acknowledge Pakistan in his speech addressing the Islamic world.
There is much speculation surrounding the reason for this apparent snub. Many pundits have publicly said that this may have been because of the controversy surrounding PM Nawaz Sharif over the Panamagate investigation.
In his speech, Trump praised the allies of the U.S for their contributions in the war against terror. He mentioned both India and Afghanistan and recognized them as victims of terrorism, but in both instances, chose to ignore Pakistan.
There is much speculation surrounding the reason for this apparent snub. Many pundits have publicly said that this may have been because of the controversy surrounding PM Nawaz Sharif over the Panamagate investigation. Others have cited Pakistan’s friendly relationship with Iran (Trump strongly condemned Iran in his speech) as the cause.
Whatever may be the case, it has become apparent that Pakistan’s stature in the international community is not what it used to be. Below is a video showing the 1960 visit of President Ayub Khan to Saudi Arabia, he was welcomed personally by the king of Saudi Arabia at the airport. Clearly, Pakistan’s importance in the eyes of the international community has considerably shrunk since then.
Question for discussion: Why do you think Pakistan’s international stature has shrunk?