PM Imran to visit Malaysia next month, FM Qureshi tells NA body

Published January 9, 2020
Malaysia's PM Mahathir Mohamad listens to PM Imran Khan during a welcoming ceremony at the prime minister's office in Putrajaya in November 2018. — AFP
Malaysia's PM Mahathir Mohamad listens to PM Imran Khan during a welcoming ceremony at the prime minister's office in Putrajaya in November 2018. — AFP

Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Malaysia in February in what will be his second trip to the country since assuming office, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday.

Qureshi, who was briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs at the Foreign Office, also disclosed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Pakistan next month. Erdogan was scheduled to visit Islamabad last year in October but the visit was postponed, with the FO not citing a reason for it.

Prime Minister Imran's visit to Malaysia comes after he decided to skip the Kuala Lumpur summit of some 20 Muslim countries last month, reportedly due to pressure exerted by Saudi Arabia, which had extended a helping hand to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government during its early days to stave off an economic crisis.

Examine: Last-minute pull out of KL Summit reflects PM's Trumpian-style of dealing with foreign policy issues

Foreign Minister Qureshi had confirmed that Riyadh and the UAE had concerns about the summit, saying the two countries were worried that the event could cause “division in Ummah” and lead to setting up of an organisation parallel to the existing Saudi-dominated Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Turkish media later quoted Erdogan as saying that Prime Minister Imran had decided against attending the Malaysia summit because of Saudi Arabia's threats of economic sanctions, which allegedly included withdrawing money the kingdom has deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan and replacing Pakistani labour in Saudi Arabia with Bangladeshis.

The Saudi embassy in Islamabad had denied "information and fake news" that Riyadh had "pressurised and threatened" Pakistan to refrain from participating in the Kuala Lumpur summit, saying "the relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Islamic Republic of Pakistan are superior to the language of threat."

The Foreign Office, meanwhile, had stated that 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".

'Hindu Rashtra' in India

During the in-camera hearing at the FO, Foreign Minister Qureshi briefed the MNAs on a host of diplomatic issues including the prevailing tensions in the Middle East and Indian-occupied Kashmir, a statement issued by the FO said.

FM Qureshi briefs the NA committee on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
FM Qureshi briefs the NA committee on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

He said the Indian government had introduced "discriminatory" measures such as the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens in an attempt to violate the rights of minorities, especially Muslims.

"These laws are part of the Hindu Rashtra plan and mindset," the minister told the lawmakers.

He noted that protests against these government measures are increasing day-by-day and have spread across India. The situation is so serious that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was forced to cancel a scheduled visit to Assam, the minister said.

Qureshi informed the MNAs that the OIC had also reacted to the Indian government's discriminatory measures.

The foreign minister also informed the committee that he is in contact with his counterparts from all important countries of the region to help reduce prevailing tensions between the US and Iran.

He expressed the concern that if the situation gets worse it will have consequences for the entire region and the Afghan peace process could also be affected.

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