IRSHAD SALIM — Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in an unusually sharp warning asked Saudi Arabia-led Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday to stop dilly-dallying on the convening of a meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on Kashmir.
“I am once again respectfully telling OIC that a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is our expectation. If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris.”
Speaking at a Webinar on Wednesday (organized by Pakistan embassy in Riyadh), Dr. Akbar Ahmed (Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, School of International Service, American University, DC.),suggested the kingdom could play major role in the matter as it has strong relations with both.
Mr Qureshi said that if OIC fails to summon the CFM meeting, Pakistan would be ready to go for a session outside OIC. In response to another question, he said Pakistan could not wait any further.
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.
On Wednesday the lockdown in Kashmir marked first year. Pakistan wants OIC to send a clear message from Ummah on the Kashmir issue.
Frustration in Islamabad over OIC’s inaction on Kashmir has been growing for months.
A major reason behind the failure to call the foreign ministers’ meeting has been Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to accept Pakistan’s request for one specifically on Kashmir. Riyadh’s support is crucial for any move at the OIC, which is dominated by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
Mr Qureshi said Pakistan skipped Kuala Lumpur Summit last December on Saudi request and now Pakistani Muslims are demanding of Riyadh to “show leadership on the issue”.
“We have our own sensitivities. You have to realise this. Gulf countries should understand this,” the foreign minister said, adding that he could no more indulge in diplomatic niceties.
Mr Qureshi made it clear that he was not being emotional and fully understood the implications of his statement. “It’s right, I’m taking a position despite our good ties with Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“We cannot stay silent anymore on the sufferings of the Kashmiris,” he said. More…
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Pakistan’s time-tested friend, China, has immediately come forward and extended $1 billion in loan to help Islamabad avoid any adverse impact of the partial withdrawal of the Saudi lifeline, sources in the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) told The Express Tribune on Wednesday. More…