Prime Minister Imran Khan will not participate in the upcoming Kuala Lumpur Summit, a statement by the Prime Minister's Office of Malaysia confirmed on Tuesday.
The statement said Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad received a call from Imran yesterday (Dec 16). "Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his regrets for not being able to attend the Kuala Lumpur Summit," said the statement.
"Dr Mahathir appreciates Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call to inform of his inability to attend the summit where the Pakistani leader was expected to speak and share his thoughts on the state of affairs of the Islamic world.
"Dr Mahathir would also like to correct some misinformation as was reported in Pakistan Today that alleged Dr Mahathir as saying that the KL Summit was intended to be a platform to replace the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation," added the statement.
According to sources within the Foreign Office, no official from Pakistan will attend the summit.
The summit, which is being participated by over 400 Muslim leaders, intellectuals, scholars and thinkers from 52 countries, will begin on Dec 18 in Kuala Lumpur, while the foreign leaders will meet on Dec 19 to explore new and workable solutions for problems afflicting the Muslim world. It is believed that Imran Khan had contributed to the idea of the summit during his trilateral meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir bin Mohamad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York in September on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session. Mahatir and Erdogan are the driving force behind the new forum.
A day earlier, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan had told reporters that a decision on Prime Minister Imran’s participation in the event would be taken on Wednesday (Dec 18) after his return from the ongoing overseas trip to Bahrain and Switzerland.
“The priorities, the national priorities are linked to national narrative and national interest,” Dr Awan explained, adding that the premier would hold consultations with all stakeholders before taking a decision on this matter. The decision would be taken in the light of his other engagements as well, she said, adding that discussions on the issue were, as of now, continuing within the government.
According to a diplomatic source, the reconsideration has been prompted by Saudi reservations. Imran had last Saturday travelled to Riyadh to assuage kingdom’s concerns and reportedly reassured Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman that his participation in the event would not be at the cost of Saudi interests. No reason from the government, however, has yet come forward.