Saudi Arabia has agreed to lend its weight on the issue of Kashmir by holding a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss concerns related to the Indian occupied territory.
The move, which is seen as a blow to India’s ultra-right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is thought to have been influenced by Pakistan and is being seen as quid pro quo for Islamabad’s decision to back out of the recent Islamic summit hosted by Malaysia. Riyadh also refused to take part in the event.
Arab and Pakistani media reported that Pakistan’s decision to snub the Malaysia summit, where Muslim world leaders were congregating, was taken after a visit to Saudi Arabia, during which Prime Minister Imran Khan met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.
The Pakistani official was persuaded to keep away after hearing Saudi concerns that the summit was being held to undermine the OIC and Saudi.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad dismissed Riyad’s claim and insisted that the summit, attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, would look to find new strategies in dealing with crises facing the Muslim world.
A deal to snub the Malaysia summit in return for getting the Saudis to hold a special meeting on Kashmir is likely to be seen by Pakistan as a small victory. Despite its close ties with Riyadh, Islamabad has watched one of its strongest allies moving ever closer to one of its main rivals through new economic and security ties.
This burgeoning ties between Saudi and India is taking place while tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi are the highest they have been in recent years as a result of India’s annexation of Kashmir. Riyadh has expressed concerns over the deteriorating human rights in the valley but has done little else to impede resurgent far-right Hindu nationalists.
Under Modi, a devotee of Hindu nationalism known as Hindutva, India’s secular constitution is being torn apart in pursuit of a dogmatic religious state. Their goal is thought to be no less than the reformation of India as an ethno-religious state affording special rights and privileges to Hindus within a multi-tier system of citizenship.
While Millions of Muslims face the threat of being made second class citizens if not made completely stateless through new national registry systems, it has been business as usual for Saudi Arabia, even though royals in Riyadh present themselves as leaders of the Muslim world when it serves their soft-power interests.
Indian sources however are reporting a diplomatic coup for India concerning the OIC meeting. Suggestions are that the meeting has been downgrade to the level of foreign ministers instead of a summit between leaders of member countries.