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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Imran Khan to visit Malaysia: Repairing the bad patch?

Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to take up regional situation with the Malaysian counterpart. Earlier Suadi Arabia did not “allow” Pakistani premier to attend the summit. Has Pakistan’s foreign office taken the Kingdom into confidence for now?

Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to travel to Malaysia on January 31 where he is expected to discuss bilateral ties and the regional situation, including Indian atrocities in the valley of Kashmir, with his counterpart, Mahathir Mohamad.

GVS learned through reliable diplomatic sources that the schedule of the prime minister’s visit to Malaysia is being finalized. Consultation has been ongoing in this regard.


The visit is of paramount significance because of the fact that Pakistan did not participate in an unprecedented Summit in the Muslim world held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was attended by world leaders including Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamed, Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan, Iran’s Hassan Rouhani, and Indonesia’s Joseph Widodo.

Saudi Arabia and UAE had reservations over the conduct of the summit. They also asked Pakistan not to attend it. However, the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) clarified the Kuala Lumpur Summit (KL Summit) 2019 was not intended to create a new bloc to replace the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The Prime Minister also said the summit was not a platform to discuss religion or religious affairs but specifically to address the state of affairs of the Muslim ummah. “As a small nation, Malaysia is fully aware of its limitations and capabilities. We are merely attempting to contribute what little we can for the betterment of the Ummah (Muslims),” the statement said.

Read more: Pakistan and the Malaysia Summit: Opportunity foregone?

Prime Minister Imran Khan telephoned Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Muhammad and expressed his regrets for not being able to attend the summit,

Dr. Mahathir appreciated Imran Khan’s call to inform of his inability to attend the summit where the Pakistani leader was expected to speak and help develop a common stand against the rising Islamophobia and intolerance against Muslims – especially in India and across Europe.

Dr. Mohammad, a leader who takes principled stand?

Dr. Mohamad is known for his vocal positions on politically sensitive matters. In his address to the 74th UNGA, Mohamad said: “Now, despite the UN resolution on Jammu and Kashmir, the country has been invaded and occupied.” “There may be reasons for this action but it is still wrong. The problem must be solved by peaceful means. India should work with Pakistan to resolve this problem. Ignoring the UN would lead to other forms of disregard for the UN and the Rule of Law,” said Mahathir.

Read more: Pakistan-Malaysia ties: Beginning of a new era

He stood by his remarks despite the fact that Malaysia’s exports to India were worth US$10.8 billion (S$14.7 billion) in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2019, while imports totaled US$6.4 billion, according to Indian government data. India was Malaysia’s third-largest export destination in 2018 for palm oil and palm-based products worth RM6.84 billion (S$2.23 billion).

Similarly, on the recent assassination of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani, Dr. Mohammad noted that “We are no longer safe now. If anybody insults or says something that somebody doesn’t like, it is alright for that person from another country to send a drone and perhaps have a shot at me”.

According to the New Straits Times, Mahathir added that “the time is right for Muslim countries to come together”. However, he also lamented that “it (the Muslim world) is not yet together”.

Why were Saudis angry?

Moeed Pirzada recorded a Video Blog, on his YouTube Channel that explains the immediate background, difficult diplomacy between Pakistan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia and the historic background of leadership transitions across the Muslim world. He has pointed out that a trip to Saudi Arabia from Dr. Mahatir Mohammad, Malaysia PM, was scheduled for 6th December.

But later Saudis wanted him to delay that trip for a few days; Malaysians argued that delay is not possible due to impending Kuala Lumpur Summit beginning on 18th. Sources close to Pakistan Foreign Office point out that had trip taken place then perhaps MBS would have been persuaded to participate in the Kuala Lumpur Summit.

Watch Moeed Pirzada’s detailed blog on this and historic conflict.

Imran Khan from the very beginning, immediately after taking oath as Prime Minister of Pakistan, has been very vocal for unity across the Muslim world. In September this year, Prime Minister Imran Khan, along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad had decided to counter Islamophobia. They had also agreed to jointly develop an English TV Network to bring out the Muslim world’s perspective on regional and international developments.

Read more: Malaysian PM to be the guest of honor at Pakistan Day Parade: DG ISPR

Three leaders reportedly took part in a trilateral summit on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) where they agreed on possible measures to counter Islamophobia.

It is yet to be seen whether this meeting shall help resume the previous agenda and jointly work to safeguard the interests of the Ummah.