It seems that relations with Saudi Arabia have suffered a setback. Pakistan is frustrated at the failure of the Saudi-led OIC to hold a meeting on Kashmir and has hinted on taking a separate direction.
The statement by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was rather surprising after he criticised the staunch ally for not supporting Pakistan’s stance on Indian-occupied Kashmir. Pakistan has been pushing to hold a foreign minister’s meeting on Kashmir to give a unified message to the world. The global body has been hesitant possibly to its growing economic and trade ties with India.
Pakistan observed 5th August to mark the Indian aggression in Kashmir but has been unable to convince OIC to hold a meeting since the past year. Now Pakistan appears frustrated over the delaying tactics and silence on Kashmir and has decided to convene its own meeting whether Saudi Arabia joins them or not.
This could be a pivotal shift in Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Imran Khan faced an embarrassment when he didn’t attend a meeting convened by Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohammad to discuss pressing facing the Islamic world after intense pressure from Riyadh. Pakistan has received support from Turkey, Malaysia and Qatar but needs Saudi Arabia to play a leading role on Kashmir issue.
While Pakistan was holding rallies against Indian atrocities and annexation of Kashmir on 5th August, Modi laid the foundation of the Ram temple at the site of the demolished Babri mosque. It was a tense day in the subcontinent and Pakistan, angered by Indian belligerence, wants Muslim countries to have a greater role in highlighting the plight of Kashmiris.
Pakistan has relied on Saudi Arabia for political and economic support including buying oil on deferred payments and bailouts. It is been reported that Pakistan has prematurely paid $1 billion loan to Saudi Arabia. In fact, Pakistan had to borrow from Chinese to pay the Saudis which implies that the government wants to reduce dependence on the oil-rich nation.
Qureshi has denied there is any ill will with Saudi Arabia and both countries enjoy fraternal relations but the Foreign Office has reiterated the call to hold a meeting on Kashmir. If Pakistan goes ahead without Saudi Arabia then it will be huge policy shift. Pakistan’s main complaint that it has not received the expected support from Saudi Arabia on Kashmir which also reflects the aspiration of the people.
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