Saudis ‘blackmailed’ Imran over Malaysia summit, claims Erdogan | Pakistan Today

Saudis ‘blackmailed’ Imran over Malaysia summit, claims Erdogan

–Kingdom reportedly said it would send ‘Pakistani workers back, will withdraw its $6bn deposited in SBP’

–FO spokesperson says Pakistan did not participate in KL Summit to avoid possible division in Ummah

ISLAMABAD: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday alleged that Saudi Arabia threatened Pakistan with extreme measures, which include the imposition of economic sanctions on the country and deportation of its citizens working in the Kingdom, to stop it from attending the Kuala Lumpur Summit.

The comments regarding the non-participation of Pakistan in the summit were made by the Turkish president in a conversation with journalists in Kuala Lumpur.

According to Erdogan, Saudi Arabia also threatened to withdraw $6 billion from Pakistan’s central bank and warned of further economic sanctions in case it became part of the event.

“Unfortunately, we see that Saudi Arabia pressures Pakistan. Now, there are promises that the country has given to Pakistan regarding the central bank. However, more than that, there are 4m Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia. They (threaten by saying that they) would send (Pakistanis) back and re-employ Bangladeshi people instead,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah.

Responding to another question regarding the absence of Pakistan and Indonesia at the summit, Erdogan said he would have “liked to see them here as well”.

When it comes to Saudi Arabia’s effect in this absence, Erdogan stated that this was not a first for the country since it has the tendency to put pressure on other countries in doing or not doing things.

According to Erdogan, due to its economic difficulties, Pakistan had to obey such threats, while implying that Indonesia has also suffered from similar problems.

He said Turkey will continue its cooperation with Malaysia, Qatar, and Iran over both regional and international issues, underlining the importance of unity in the Islamic world.

“(During the Kuala Lumpur summit) we had the chance to discuss the challenges that the Islamic world faces with the participation of the presidents of Turkey, Malaysia, Qatar, and Iran as well as many other high-level representatives from various countries,” Erdogan said.

When contacted, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that Pakistan did not participate in the KL Summit as time and efforts were needed to address the concerns of major Muslim countries regarding possible division in the Ummah.

“Pakistan will continue to work for the unity and solidarity of the Ummah, which is indispensable for effectively addressing the challenges faced by the Muslim world,” she said.

PAKISTAN CRITICISED OVER NO-SHOW:

Pakistan’s last minute decision to pull out of the Kuala Lumpur Summit has drawn criticism with some defending the withdrawal by the cash-strapped Islamabad that financially depends on oil-rich Gulf states.

Prime Minister Imran Khan canceled his planned visit to the Malaysian capital to attend the summit after concerns from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed on Tuesday, according to local English daily Dawn.

Khan paid a daylong visit to Riyadh earlier this week in a vain bid to assuage the kingdom’s reservations over the scheduled summit.

Leaders from Muslim countries gathered in Kuala Lumpur to discuss issues confronting the Muslims globally at the summit, which started on Wednesday and will continue till Saturday.

“It’s an internal diplomatic failure,” said Abdul Basit, a former Pakistani ambassador told Anadolu Agency, adding that Islamabad should have done its homework before committing to such an initiative.

He said Pakistan should not have skipped the initiative even if it meant sending a lower-level delegation.

Retired Lt. Gen. Talat Masood, an Islamabad-based security analyst, echoed the view observing that the Kuala Lumpur initiative has upset Riyadh which views its as an attempt to replace the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

“It shows the lack of understanding on the part of the prime minister. He should not have committed what he could not do,” Masood told Anadolu Agency.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]



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