President Erdogan, according to Turkish media, said Riyadh coerced Islamabad into skipping the summit after Prime Minister Imran Khan had confirmed his participation in the event. Saudi Arabia threatened to expel Pakistani expatriates living in the kingdom and withdraw the amount deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan last year for shoring up foreign exchange reserves, the Turkish president said.
“Unfortunately, we see that Saudi Arabia pressures Pakistan. Now, there are promises that the country has given to Pakistan regarding the central bank. However, more than that, there are four million Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia. They (threaten by saying that they) would send (Pakistanis) back and re-employ Bangladeshi people instead,” Mr Erdogan said.
According to the Turkish leader, Pakistan had to fall in line due to its economic difficulties. Despite this embarrassing disclosure by President Erdogan about Prime Minister Khan’s absence from the KL summit, Malaysia and Turkey have kept Pakistan involved in the project for setting up a television channel for countering Islamophobia.
The bloc has been known for paralysis and grandiose, hollow statements more than for taking action. The fact is Riyadh was wary of the KL moot where its geopolitical rivals — Turkey, Iran, Qatar — participated as equals.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision not to attend the Muslim countries’ summit in Kuala Lampur which began on Dec 18 is a missed opportunity for our country. The summit’s agenda is to gather leaders of Muslim countries to discuss the challenges — internal and external —besetting the Muslim world, the persecution of Muslims in many countries and Islamophobia.
One wonders why Pakistan declined the invitation sent personally by the Malaysian and Turkish leaders when both countries have stood firmly with Pakistan on all forums and even downgraded bilateral trade with India when Modi unilaterally revoked Kashmir special status.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other Arab states honored the Indian Prime Minister Modi with high awards. A sad reflection on our decision-makers’ priorities. A word of advice to our mandarins: if we continue to fail to stand by our friends, there will be serious ramifications in the future.
However, it seems ridiculous to give an explanation to the annoyed friends about the decisions. The prime minister represents 220 million Pakistanis. We have a frail economy and poor management but we do have honor and integrity. A leader should take a decision and make it right. The prime minister is under obligation to give an explanation to the nation, not to kings and princes.
After India abolished article 370 and put Kashmir under curfew, did the Arab sheikhs give Imran Khan explanations about their engagements and close relations with India?
The dangers of lack of proper planning and foresight at the state level, especially in sensitive matters of foreign affairs, have become apparent in the fiasco that resulted when Pakistan absented itself from the Kuala Lumpur Summit, which wrapped up on Saturday.
The moot was touted as a forum to discuss the “state of affairs of the Muslim Ummah” and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, one of the architects of the summit, explicitly said the conclave was not a replacement for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Saudi Arabia threatened to expel Pakistani expatriates living in the kingdom and withdraw the amount deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan last year for shoring up foreign exchange reserves, the Turkish president said
This is the fifth edition of the summit and the 2019 meeting was given an additional boost as Dr Mahathir, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Imran Khan had sought to make the forum a proactive one, along with other Muslim leaders, to discuss the state of affairs in the lands of Islam.
However, Pakistan’s abrupt withdrawal from the summit caused diplomatic embarrassment. This was compounded by revelations by Mr Erdogan on Friday that the Saudis asked Pakistan to withdraw or else face the expulsion of Pakistani expatriates from the kingdom as well as the withdrawal of Saudi funds deposited in this country.
The Saudi embassy in Islamabad has termed these comments “fake news”. As we have stated previously in these columns, proper homework should have been done before committing Pakistan to the summit. Withdrawing from the moot at the last minute, after Prime Minister Imran Khan made a dash to Saudi Arabia, did little to lift our international image.
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This reflects bad form and a lack of planning at the top. Surely, there are experienced hands at the Foreign Office as well as retired veteran diplomats and other experts in international relations who could have been consulted to weigh the pros and cons of attending the summit before making a policy decision.
Pakistan at one time enjoyed great prestige in the Islamic bloc; today, this reputation risks being tarnished if thoughtless actions such as the KL Summit debacle are repeated. Perhaps some damage control can be done by organizing a conclave in Pakistan to discuss the Muslim world’s problems.
As for the OIC secretary general’s contention that events such as the KL Summit “are not in the interest of [the] Islamic nation”, this position is highly debatable.It can be asked what — over the decades — has the OIC done to alleviate the sufferings of the Palestinians, the Kashmiris, the Rohingya and other persecuted Muslim groups suffering from oppression. The bloc has been known for paralysis and grandiose, hollow statements more than for taking action.
The fact is Riyadh was wary of the KL moot where its geopolitical rivals — Turkey, Iran, Qatar — participated as equals. If the OIC is incapable of addressing the issues of the world’s Muslims, from terrorism to disease to illiteracy, then other forums are bound to arise to tackle these problems.
Kanwar Dilshad, former Secretary to the Election Commission of Pakistan, worked in the constitutional institution for over 30 years. He is currently the chairperson for the National Democratic Foundation; the foundation’s work is to grow and strengthen democracy in Pakistan.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.