Tuesday Dec 17 2019

PM Imran Khan cancels Malaysia visit under Saudi pressure

Prime Minister Imran Khan. Photo: Imran Khan Instagram 

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has cancelled his scheduled visit to Malaysia under pressure from Saudi Arabia, diplomatic sources told Geo News.

Diplomatic sources said the prime minister has apprised his Malaysian counterpart over his non-availability for the summit.

Earlier it was reported, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was expected to represent Pakistan at the summit. 

The development comes after a meeting between PM Imran with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in Riyadh on Saturday during which matters related to bilateral relations were discussed.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal during his weekly briefing had said the summit would provide Pakistan an opportunity to explain views and find solutions to the challenges facing the Muslim world particularly governance, development, terrorism, and Islamophobia.

In November, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had extended an invitation to PM Imran through his Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Bin Haji Yahya.

The summit is expected to be an important gathering of the Muslim leaders with a shared agenda related to the Muslim world and its collective challenges in a highly interconnected world.

Read also: Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan to launch Islamic TV channel

Notable leaders expected to attend the summit include Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al Thani, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

It is pertinent to mention here that the summit was finalised during a trilateral meeting involving Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia in September in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session.

Saudi Arabia not invited to Kuala Lumpur Summit

According to media reports Saudi Arabia has not been extended an invitation to attend the Kuala Lumpur Summit starting tomorrow.

The News reported Saudi Arabia had raised serious concerns over the Malaysian prime minister's statement where he had said the Muslim countries at Kuala Lumpur Summit would form a new platform to replace the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which "had failed to deliver the goods on issues faced by the Muslims across the world.”

Sources also said Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Bahrain were perturbed over the expected presence of Qatari emir, Turkish president and Iranian president at the summit and fear a new but parallel leadership forum is being developed to undermine Saudi Arabia and its allies. 

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan while speaking to the media on Monday had said decision regarding PM Imran’s visit to Malaysia would be taken keeping in mind the national interest.

Originally published in The News