Karamatullah K Ghori
recent visit to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Imran Khan lamented that Pakistan
wasn’t getting from its ‘brothers’ in the Muslim world the support it expected
over its tangled relations with neighbouring India.
gone to Kuala Lumpur to smoothen out kinks in his equation with Malaysian PM
Mahathir Mohammad, whom he’d greatly disappointed by not showing up at the
Kuala Lumpur Summit last December. Imran publicly apologised to his host for
not showing up at that important conclave—of which he was himself a proponent
along with Mahathir and President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
apologised for his absence which, he acknowledged, was because of
‘misconception’ of some Muslim states who thought of the conclave as ‘divisive’ and ‘disruptive’ of
the fabled unity of the Muslim ‘Ummah’.
didn’t name names of the countries that suffered from the ‘misconception’, but he didn’t have to. An outspoken Erdogan
had done that on the heels of the meeting by pointing the finger at Saudi
Arabia which, according to him, had twisted Imran’s arm to not turn up at the
been harshly lambasted by a free-wheeling Pakistani news media for his
pusillanimity and surrender to the Saudi diktat. But he’d kept a studied
silence on the issue. So, the pundits are pondering and musing, why did he
choose to break his silence now and that, too, on foreign soil? Well, for one,
Imran was on friendly soil in Kuala Lumpur and knew he’d be having a receptive
audience there. Mahathir, along with Erdogan, has stood stoutly by Pakistan in
its ongoing tangle with India over what the Modi government has done to the
disputed Valley of Kashmir. Mahathir is paying a stiff price for his support to
Pakistan in the sense that India, out of pique at his temerity, has hit back by
drastically reducing its import of palm oil from Malaysia.
another, Mahathir and Erdogan together make a duo of the fiercest critics of the
Saudi stance of not only not supporting what they regard as ‘Pan-Islamic’
causes and issues but also for playing a disruptive and divisive role in the
ranks of the ‘Ummah.’
novice to governance, regards Mahathir and Erdogan as his mentors and gurus in
statecraft. That he chose his presence in Kuala Lumpur to make a clean breast
of his disappointment for having taken his cue from Saudi Arabia in boycotting
the Summit is a pointer to his and Pakistan’s growing frustration with their
Arab ‘brethren’ in general, and with the Saudis in particular, for not standing
with Pakistan when most needed.
feels sorely disappointed that the Saudis have not only done precious little
for them on their own but, more regrettably, have callously sabotaged all
Pakistani efforts to get the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the highest
representative body of Muslim States, actively engaged on Pakistan’s side in
its tussle with India over Kashmir.
OIC, in its
genesis, was supposed to lend a platform to the Ummah for collective advocacy
of all issues Islamic. However, because of its headquarters in Jeddah, and
because Saudi money largely bankrolls OIC, it has become—to the utter
frustration of many—a Saudi handmaiden. Together with UAE, Saudi Arabia has
stonewalled collective action by OIC member states where needed, for instance,
the Indian government revoked Kashmir’s special status, last August, Pakistan
has been tilting at all windmills to have an exclusive gathering of OIC Foreign
Ministers to hear its complaints on the Indian move. But it has hit a wall on
every move to have the OIC on board. Last week, for instance, senior officials
of OIC congregated to an prepare agenda for the 47th session of OIC FMs.
Kashmir figured on it, but only for casual discussion. Pakistan was left out in
the cold on its request for an exclusive session of FMs on Kashmir.
Pakistani social media has been vocal in its condemnation of the Saudis and
Emiratis for being undisguised partisans of India. They are accused of putting
money before principles. Tens of billions of their dollars are invested in
India, besides India being a much larger market than Pakistan for their oil.
hands are tied, for a variety of reasons. Saudi Arabia is not only where the
two most sacred shrines of Islam are located—and Pakistan has Islam at its
roots—but it’s also home to 2.5 million Pakistani expatriates. Besides,
Pakistan is beholden to the Saudis for bailing them out of tight economic
binds, time and again. Imran’s government is no exception.
generation of Pakistanis, increasingly and unequivocally, critique the Saudis
for taking the older Pakistani generation’s infatuation with them for granted.
They would like to see their policy makers becoming more even-handed, say,for
instance, between the Saudis and Iran—an immediate neighbour.
Imran is an
icon of the younger Pakistani generation. He seems to be getting their message
to get Pakistani policy on the ‘Ummah’ better keeled. Imran is playing host to
Erdogan in Islamabad as these lines are written. But diluting the Saudi
syndrome will be a tougher ball game.
K Ghori is a Former Pakistani diplomat
Headline: Arab ‘brothers’ frustrating Pakistan
Source: The New Indian Express