In what clearly shows that Pakistan has totally succumbed to Saudi pressure when it comes to the Kashmir issue, Imran Khan has cancelled his Malaysia visit even though he was scheduled to address the Kuala Lumpur Summit that he had himself helped organise. According to ET, Saudi Arabia wanted Pakistan to stay away from the Kuala Lumpur Summit which led to the latter pulling out from it. The news of his non-participation has been announced in a statement by Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office.
Pakistan, which has been unsuccessfully trying to internationalise India’s move to abrogate Article 370 since August 5 when India revoked the special status of erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir, had planned to raise the Kashmir issue at the Kuala Lumpur Summit.
In fact, Pakistan was one of the first countries with whom the Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamed had shared his plans for holding the Summit, when he met the Pakistan PM along with the Turkish President Erdogan at the sidelines of the UNGA session.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been opposed to the Kuala Lumpur Summit. Riyadh even went to the extent of advising Malaysia to refrain from splitting Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and raising issues relating to Muslims at the Summit. In fact, Saudi King Salman has reaffirmed that such issues should be raised through the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) only. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been worried about the Summit as they fear that it might cause “division in Ummah” and lead to the setting up of an organisation under Malaysia’s leadership parallel to the existing OIC which has been traditionally dominated by Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan, which had earlier accepted the formal invitation to attend the Summit has now snubbed the event following Imran Khan’s sudden visit to Saudi Arabia on December 14. The purpose of his visit was to reassure Saudi Arabia after the latter expressed unhappiness over Pakistan Prime Minister’s decision to attend the Kuala Lumpur Summit. While Pakistan is trying to raise the Kashmir issue at all possible levels, it cannot afford to upset Riyadh given that the latter has come to its rescue at a time when Pakistan is embroiled in a deep economic crisis.
Pakistan also looks upon Saudi as a key player which would help it in improving ties with the United States. Saudi Arabia’s pressure has not only shaped Imran Khan’s decision to cancel his visit to Malaysia, but has also led to Pakistan retracting the statement that it has issued in anticipation of a UNSC closed consultations to discuss the present situation in Kashmir. However, China withdrew its request for holding discussions on the Kashmir issue in the UNSC following opposition from others including the four other permanent members of UNSC. In fact, a French diplomatic source had earlier said, “Our position has been very clear: the Kashmir issue has to be discussed bilaterally. We have highlighted this several times recently, including in the UN.”
Following India’s August 5 move of revoking the special status of the erstwhile status of Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan’s all-weather ally, China had formally asked for closed consultations in the UNSC about this matter. However, the UNSC closed consultations on August 16 had ended without any statement from the powerful supranational organisation, dealing a massive blow to Pakistan’s ambitions of internationalising the Kashmir issue.
However, Pakistan’s UN stunt on the Kashmir issue seems to have failed this time after Imran Khan’s December 14 visit to Saudi Arabia. It is pertinent to mention here that Saudi Arabia has emerged as a major partner for India in the recent past. The present regime in Saudi Arabia has been highly supportive of India as far as the Kashmir issue is concerned. As per Indian sources, Saudi Arabia believes that Kashmir is India’s internal matter and whatever India is doing is in betterment of its own population.
The fact that Saudi pressure has compelled Pakistan to withdraw from its Kashmir agenda gets further corroborated by the fact that when Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Al-Nahyan travelled together to Islamabad in September, they had carried an important message with themselves on behalf of the leadership of their countries as well as some of the other powerful countries. They had advised Pakistan to engage in backdoor diplomacy with India and had also requested the Pakistan PM to tone down his verbal attacks against India. At that time, Pakistan PM Imran Khan had gone into an overdrive raising the Kashmir issue at all possible platforms and levels. It seems that the Saudi pressure is finally getting the better of Pakistan for whom Saudi Arabia is an indispensable player for handling its economic woes and also at a geo-political level for improving its ties with the US. Facing immesnse Saudi pressure, Pakistan may have well been compelled into dropping its long-standing agenda of internationalising the Kashmir issue.