PM Imran may skip Kuala Lumpur summit

Qureshi likely to represent Pakistan in Malaysian capital


​ Our Correspondent December 16, 2019
Malaysian PM Dr Mahathir Bin Mohamad with PM Imran Khan. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan is unlikely to attend the Kuala Lumpur Summit being hosted by Malaysian counterpart Dr Mahathir Mohamed on the theme, ‘The Role of Development in Achieving National Security’ later this week, sources said on Monday.

Though there has been no official announcement about the December 18-21 summit, a Foreign Office source said Pakistan will be “represented at the summit by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi”.

According to the Malaysian news agency Bernama, Mahathir devised plans for the summit while meeting with the leaders of Pakistan and Turkey at the UN General Assembly.

On November 23, he announced that his country would host the summit in December.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the decision to attend the summit would be taken “in accordance with national interests”.

“The prime minister is currently in Bahrain and will later visit Geneva. He will return to the country on Wednesday [tomorrow] and [the government] will then decide if he should visit Malaysia,” she told reporters.

PM Imran had earlier confirmed his participation in the summit, which will also be attended by leaders of Turkey, Qatar and Iran.

Around 450 leaders, scholars, clerics, and thinkers from 52 countries are expected to attend the event.

However, according to the media in the Middle East, the summit is seen as an attempt to create a new bloc in the Muslim world that could become an alternative to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – an idea that upsets Saudi Arabia.

But talking to a private TV channel during PM Imran’s daylong Riyadh visit on Saturday, Qureshi negated the perception that the summit was being raised as a parallel platform or against the OIC.

“The elements desiring to create discord among the Muslim world are creating such perceptions,” he said.

“Dr Mahathir Mohamed has already organised four [similar] sessions as his private initiative before assuming the office of the Malaysian prime minister,” he said.

“He [the Malaysian prime minister] is now trying to give it a formal shape,” Qureshi said, adding that Dr Mahathir had sent his foreign minister to Riyadh to extend a formal invitation for the summit, considering Saudi Arabia an important member of the Muslim world.

The plan for the summit was finalised in the second ministerial meeting in the Qatari capital.

Speaking at the meeting, Qureshi said that Pakistan fully supported the initiative of Dr Mahathir to bring five Muslim nations together to achieve socioeconomic development.

He endorsed his statement that “we are not here to challenge any existing organisation or directing our cooperation against any third party”.

Qureshi said that “we have to create a knowledge-seeking culture for our youth, who are going to be the future leaders, at all levels.”

With additional input from Agencies and News Desk

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