Pakistan to skip Kuala Lumpur Summit

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: After Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Gulf countries, Pakistan has decided to stay away from the upcoming Kuala Lumpur Summit due to reservations expressed by the Arab world particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a senior government official confirmed on Tuesday.

The government official said that Pakistan was opting out of the summit because it wanted to maintain neutrality.

Contrary to earlier reports, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also would not attend the summit hosted by Malaysia, Turkey, Qatar and Iran to represent Pakistan

The official explained that the reason Pakistan pulled out of the summit was due to differences between Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.

“Saudi Arabia believed that Kuala Lumpur Summit would divide the Islamic world,” the official maintained.

“It was a difficult decision and taken in best national interest and keeping in view the larger regional picture,” the official added.

PM Imran took his Malaysian counterpart, Dr Mahathir Mohamed, into confidence before taking the decision. He held four telephonic conversations with Mahathir on the issue.

The Malaysian prime minister’s office also confirmed the development.

“Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad received a call from His Excellency Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, yesterday. Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his regrets for not being able to attend the Kuala Lumpur Summit scheduled from 18 to 21 December 2019.”

The statement added that Prime Minister Mahathir appreciated PM Imran’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.”

The premier had earlier confirmed his participation in the summit. Around 450 leaders, scholars, clerics, and thinkers from 52 countries are expected to attend the event.

However, according to the media in the Middle East, the summit is seen as an attempt to create a new bloc in the Muslim world that could become an alternative to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – an idea that upsets Saudi Arabia.

But talking to a private TV channel during PM Imran’s daylong Riyadh visit on Saturday, Qureshi negated the perception that the summit was being raised as a parallel platform or against the OIC.

“The elements desiring to create discord among the Muslim world are creating such perceptions,” he said.

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