Pakistan’s “friends” felt Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attendance of the Kuala Lumpur Summit in December would “divide the Ummah”, the officials said during a two-day visit to Malaysia this week.
Addressing a joint press conference with his Malaysian counterpart, Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya, Khan said: “Unfortunately, our friends, who are very close to Pakistan as well, felt that somehow the conference was going to divide the ummah. It was clearly a misconception because that was not the purpose of the conference as evident from when the conference took place.”
The references appear to be made to Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, the UAE who are accused of pressurising Khan not to attend the “mini-Islamic summit” fearing it would become a rival to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Khan was a high-profile attendee but pulled out at the eleventh hour. “I was looking forward to attending the conference because I feel that it is important that Muslim countries educate Western and non-Muslim countries about Islam and all these misunderstandings, whether deliberate or due to ignorance,” he said.
Although Khan did not name the two countries, he lamented that “The reason is that we have no voice and there is a total division amongst [us]. We can’t even come together as a whole on the OIC summit meeting on Kashmir.”
Dawn reported that Khan voiced frustration over the OIC’s silence on the issue of Kashmir while speaking at a think-tank during his Malaysia trip. Pakistan has been pushing for the foreign ministers’ meeting of the 57-member bloc of Muslim countries, which is the second largest intergovernmental body after the UN, since India annexed occupied Kashmir last August by stripping it of its special status under India’s constitution.
Riyadh’s support is perceived as essential for any move at the OIC, which is dominated by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states.
Following India’s ban last month on Malaysian palm oil imports after Prime Minister Mohamad criticised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government over its actions in Kashmir and the controversial new citizenship law, Khan suggested that Pakistan was prepared to import more palm oil from Malaysia, “Pakistan will do its best to compensate that loss,” he said.
Khan arrived in Malaysia on Monday evening.