Saudi plans OIC foreign ministers’ meeting on Kashmir

Islamabad: Saudi Arabia plans to convene a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Kashmir, in an apparent move by Riyadh to please Pakistan which skipped a recent summit of Muslim nations in Malaysia seen by Riyadh as an attempt to create a new bloc to replace the dysfunctional OIC led by it.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan conveyed this to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi during a meeting with him at the Foreign Office on Thursday, Dawn reported, quoting a diplomatic source.
He was on a day-long visit to Islamabad to convey the Saudi leadership’s gratitude to Pakistan for not participating in the recently held Kuala Lumpur summit of Muslim nations in view of the Gulf Kingdom’s reservations, the paper reported.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had confirmed Pakistan’s participation in the summit hosted by Malaysia, but skipped the event at the eleventh hour due to pressure exerted by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – key financial backers of the cash-stripped country.
Qureshi briefed Prince Faisal on the situation in Kashmir in the aftermath of India’s move to abrogate article 370 on August 5.
“The two Foreign Ministers discussed OIC’s role in the advancement of the cause of Kashmir,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
He also “highlighted the Indian Government’s actions with regard to CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act 2019) and NRC (National Register of Citizens) and the systematic targeting of minorities in India, particularly Muslims,” it said.
The OIC is a 57-member grouping of Muslim majority nations, including Pakistan. The body has usually been supportive of Pakistan and often sided with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue.
In a brief statement, the OIC last week said it was “closely following recent developments affecting Muslim minority in India.”
Prince Faisal also called on Prime Minister Khan. The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Qureshi, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, spy agency ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and other senior officials.
Khan told the Saudi minister that alleged ceasefire violations by India along the Line of Control were “stoking tensions and imperiling regional peace and security”.
The Kuala Lumpur summit had found strong support in Pakistan because of Saudi’s growing trade ties with India and the OIC’s failure to take strong stance on Muslim issues.
The day-long visit of the Saudi minister came after criticism of the alleged pressure applied by the Gulf Kingdom on Pakistan to skip the Kuala Lumpur summit.
The Summit from December 19-21 was seen by Saudis as an attempt to create a new bloc in the Muslim world that could become an alternative to the dysfunctional OIC led by the Gulf Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have extended financial support to the government of Prime Minister Khan to deal with the balance of payment crisis last year.

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