Saudis pressure forced Pakistan to skip KL summit: Erdogan

Turkish president says Riyadh had threated to send back Pakistani workers, withdraw dollars from SBP


News Desk December 20, 2019
PM Imran Khan with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. PHOTO: ANADOLU AGENCY/FILE

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Saudi Arabia pressured Pakistan to shun the Kuala Lumpur Summit by threatening that Riyadh would send 4 million Pakistani workers back and withdraw billions of dollars from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Erdogan told Turkish media representatives in the Malaysian capital before returning to the country that he wanted both Pakistan and Indonesia to be present in the Malaysian capital but Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) effected their absence.

“There are 4 million Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia. They (threaten by saying that they) would send (Pakistanis) back and re-employ Bangladeshi people instead,” Turkey’s Sabah daily quoted Erdogan as saying.

“The kingdom has also used similar threatening tactics regarding the central bank case by claiming that they would withdraw their money,” he said, adding that due to its economic difficulties, Pakistan had to “obey such threats”.

The Turkish president implied that Indonesia also suffered from similar problems. “This is not a first for the countries [Saudi Arabia and the UAE] since they have the tendency to put pressure on other countries in doing or not doing things.

Pakistan pulls out of KL summit to maintain 'neutrality'

Following the Turkish newspaper report, Pakistan’s Foreign Office issued a brief statement in response to several media queries but it did not mention President Erdogan’s talks in Malaysia.

“Pakistan did not participate in the Kuala Lumpur summit because time and efforts were needed to address the concerns of major Muslim countries, regarding possible division in the Ummah, said the statement.

“Pakistan will continue to work for the unity and solidarity of the Ummah, which is indispensible for effectively addressing the challenges faced by the Muslim world,” the Foreign Office spokesperson said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is hosting the December 18-21 summit to discuss and tackle issues that have agitated the Muslims worldwide. The summit formally began on Thursday with a call to addressing the rise of Islamophobia and other issues concerning the Muslim nations.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani were among the top leaders attending the event, shunned by Saudi Arabia and criticised by the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who along with Mahathir and Erdogan had been a prime mover behind the summit, made a belated decision to skip the meeting. Imran, who had accepted the invitation to the summit, decided to skip the event after visiting Saudi Arabia on last Saturday.

Imran spoke with Mahathir on Tuesday to inform him that he would not be able to attend the summit, Mahathir’s office said in a statement on the eve of the summit. Imran held a telephone discussion with Mahathir “to inform of his inability to attend the summit,” the statement said.

The story originally appeared in Daily Sabah

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