Byline: Shabbir Kazmi
Contrary to the expectations of many Pakistanis, Prime Minister Imran Khan opted not to attend Kuala Lumpur Summit. The overwhelming perception is that the Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to stay away from the Summit under the pressure of Saudi Arabia. It is no secret that the Kingdom has been extending help to the incumbent government to avert the economic crisis, ever since Imran Khan came into power.
Reportedly, Imran Khan had telephoned his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir bin Mohammad to express his regrets for not being able to attend the summit. He also conveyed the same to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was also one of the driving forces behind the event.
It is worth noting that Pakistan was one of the first countries with whom Mahathir shared his plans for holding the summit, when he met Imran Khan along with Erdogan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York in September. Imran Khan formally conveyed his acceptance of the invitation for attending the summit when deputy Foreign Minister of Malaysia called on him in Islamabad on 29th November.
Prior to the commencement of Summit, a statement issued by Malaysian Prime Minister's Office saying, "Dr. Mahathir appreciates Prime Minister Imran Khan's call to inform of his inability to attend the summit where the Pakistani leader was expected to speak and share his thoughts on the state of affairs of the Islamic world."
There is a dire need to read the explanation put forward by Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi. He confirmed that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had concerns about the Kuala Lumpur Summit. They were worried that the event could cause fragmentation of Ummah and lead to setting up of another organization parallel to the existing Saudi-dominated Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
It is on record that prior to the commencement of Summit, Mahathir told reporters in Kuala Lumpur that Saudi King; Salman bin Abdul Aziz was averse to the Summit discussing issues facing the Muslims. Saudi King was of the view that the OIC should continue as the platform for discussing such matters.
In view of the reservations about the event, Qureshi said, it was decided that Pakistan would first attempt to bridge the gap between Riyadh and Kuala Lumpur and if that did not work there would be no participation in the Summit.
Foreign Minister explained that Pakistan did attempt to patch up the differences and succeeded...