Imran Khan’s Visit to Malaysia: Making up for the Kuala Lumpur summit?

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday launched his two-day visit to Malaysia. The latest visit is painted as a compensation for the lost opportunity for not participating in the Kuala Lumpur Summit last December.

Malaysia

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday launched his two-day visit to Malaysia, according to PM office.

In a statement, Khan’s office said: “On the invitation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister Imran Khan is visiting Malaysia.”

This is the second visit Khan has paid to Malaysia after taking over the office in 2018. His first trip was in November 2018.

A high-level delegation, including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, other Cabinet members and senior officials are accompanying Khan.

During the visit, the visiting and host premiers will have a one-on-one meeting, to be followed by talks with delegations.

Some important agreements and memorandum of understandings are expected to be signed, as well as a joint news conference as part of the visit.

“The prime minister’s visit is another sign of robust engagement between Pakistan and Malaysia and the shared commitment to further fortify the strategic partnership between the two countries,” the statement said.

Read more: Imran Khan to visit Malaysia: Repairing the bad patch?

Khan’s visit will provide an opportunity to review the full spectrum of bilateral relations and reaffirm Pakistan’s resolve to forge a robust economic relationship with Malaysia and further expand the existing broad-based, long-term and enduring cooperation, it added.

Last December, Pakistan stepped back from attending Kuala Lumpur summit where leaders from Muslim countries gathered to discuss issues the Muslims are confronting globally, which drew criticism, with some defending the withdrawal of cash-strapped Islamabad which financially depends on oil-rich Gulf states.

The Kuala Lumpur Summit which was held from December 19 to 21, 2019 was dubbed, by the Gulf states, as an attempt of certain Muslims states to make an alternative to Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Saudi Arabia (SA) and its other Gulf allies which hold sway in the OIC due to their economic preponderance were highly critical of the summit despite the clarification by the Malaysian PM. Mahathir Muhammad tried to dispel the reservations of these states by releasing a statement that the summit had no intention to replace the OIC but to no avail.

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

Pakistan, under the influence of SA, could not join the summit, owing to its overreliance on the Gulf States and especially on Saudi Arabia, for the economic assistance and oil-import. Initially, the reports of such influence were denied by the government but later Foreign minister Qureshi said that Khan cancelled his visit to the Malaysian capital over concerns by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The decision of pulling out at the last minute prompted diverging views from the analyst. Some, looking at the fragile state of the economy, called it a rational decision by the government while others criticized it on the basis that it had projected a weak foreign policy posture to the world.

The latest two-day visit of PM Khan to Malaysia is painted by some as a makeup for the lost opportunity at the Kuala Lumpur Summit. It might be true but too early to draw conclusions. Back in September 2019, at the UN General Assembly annual meeting, Khan along with his Malaysian PM and Turkish President had firmly resolved to fight against the growing Islamophobia and to allay the Muslims’ hardships across the world. The visit may be the continuation of that resolve.

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