Time, Efforts Needed to Address Concerns of Muslim Countries: Pak on Absence from Malaysia Summit
Pakistan PM Imran Khan. (Reuters file photo)
Islamabad: Pakistan did not participate in a recent summit of Muslim nations in Malaysia as time and efforts were needed to address the concerns of major Muslim countries regarding possible division in the Ummah (community), Foreign Office (FO) said on Friday.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to skip the Kuala Lumpur Summit due to pressure exerted by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.
Khan was scheduled to share the stage with leaders from Iran, Turkey and Qatar during the three-day summit beginning on Wednesday.
Pakistan will continue to work for the unity and solidarity of the Ummah, which is indispensable for effectively addressing the challenges faced by the Muslim world, according to a statement by the FO.
The statement was issued after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told media that Pakistan was forced by Saudi Arabia to stay away from the gathering.
Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported Erdogan saying that Saudis used their financial power to pressurise Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who had committed to attend the summit.
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 Bangladeshis instead, Erdogan was quoted as saying.
He said Saudi Arabia threatened to withdraw the money it had deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan to bolster foreign exchange reserves.
Pakistan had on December 6 announced that Prime Minister Khan would attend the key summit but days before the event, Saudi and UAE leaders made their displeasure known prompting Khan to dash to Riyadh and Pakistan Army chief to Dubai.
But they apparently failed to pacify the two countries and Pakistan at the last minute withdrew from the summit to what was seen as a major foreign policy debacle.
Saudis felt that the new grouping including its rivals Iran, Qatar and Turkey would pose a threat to Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which it dominated.
The Saudis and Emiratis provided at least $6 billion to Pakistan after Khan came to power last year to support faltering economy.