The fallout continues after Prime Minister Imran Khan subbed the KL Summit held in the Malaysian capital reportedly from pressure by Saudi Arabia. The prime minister probably found himself between a rock and a hard place and chose not to send any official representation.
The prime minister’s absence at the summit was strongly felt. Turkish President Erdogan revealed that Pakistan decided to stay away because of Saudi Arabia’s threats of economic sanctions. According to Erdogan, Pakistan had to comply with the Saudi wishes due to its economic difficulties. This certainly wasn’t news but shows the dilemma Pakistani leaders face when they take greater responsibilities.
The foreign office issued a brief and rather contradictory message that Pakistan did not participate in the summit as time and efforts were needed to address the concerns of major Muslims countries. Pakistan has maintained a policy of neutrality regarding issues among Muslim countries. It offered to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia to reduce the escalating tensions. Pakistan also refused to send troops to Yemen. This situation could have been handled better diplomatically.
Pakistan has brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia and UAE, but neither has supported our narrative on the Kashmir issue. The OIC has not held a session on the adverse human rights situation there or condemned India over the controversial citizenship act. These countries have instead signed massive trade deals with India and bestowed their highest award on Modi. On the contrary, Turkey and Malaysia have supported Pakistan’s stance condemning India at the UN. Both nations also helped Pakistan at the FATF to escape a blacklist. Pakistan should instead bridge the gap between nations rather than stepping aside.
The KL meeting was shunned by Arab states for undermining the OIC. Saudi King Salman has assured Mahathir Mohammad that such concerns could be discussed thorough the OIC. The Islamic body has been rendered ineffective and is merely a talk shop which has failed to resolve the issues of the Muslim world. Any effort to solve the problem of Muslim countries should be appreciated rather than creating insecurity.
Imran Khan was among the leaders who suggested hosting the conference. Despite the boycott, Malaysia and Turkey will keep Pakistan involved in a project to launch a TV channel countering Islamophobia. Pakistan’s bilateral relations should not come at high diplomatic cost of relations with other countries. The decision to boycott the summit should not be one which the prime minister might regret later on.
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