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Fewer Muslim leaders visited Pakistan since ’08

Published Oct 14, 2012 09:44pm


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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his address to the specially convened joint sitting of the parliament, hoped that ‘Pakistan will leave behind its troublesome days’ through national reconciliation and solidarity. — Photo by APP/File

ISLAMABAD, Oct 14: Let alone leaders of the western world, leadership of the Muslim countries has also largely stayed away from Pakistan since the PPP-led government took over in 2008.

On the contrary, several Muslim countries have been visited by President Asif Ali Zardari as the head of state and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani as the head of government during the last four years.

Although the Foreign Office painted a rosy picture of the country’s trustworthy and ever-lasting brotherly relations with the Muslim world, details it placed before the National Assembly recently indicated that Pakistan throughout this period had failed to attract the leaders of Muslim countries.

Starting with Saudi Arabia, the FO document said the president visited the country twice and the prime minister three times during 2008-12.

In response, Saudi Minister for Information and Culture Abdulaziz Khoja and Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, the Deputy Foreign Minister, travelled to the country.

The most favoured destination of the Pakistani leaders remains the United Arab Emirates. The Foreign Office recorded five official visits by President Zardari and one by the prime minister.

In return, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister for Foreign Affairs, visited the country in November last year.

The president visited Kuwait twice and the prime minister once, but no high-level dignitary from the oil-rich country came to Pakistan.

For Oman and Qatar, statistics on high-level bilateral visits didn’t say anything different. The two countries were visited once each by the president and the prime minister.

In response, only a senior member of Qatar’s ruling family visited the country to present a cheque for Rs400 million for flood relief.

The prime minister visited Malaysia in July 2008 and Samy Vellu, special envoy of the Malaysian prime minister, came to the country in February this year.

The only high-level visit between Indonesia and Pakistan was that of Indonesian defence minister’s who came to Pakistan in September this year.

President Zardari went to Bahrain in August last year.

The prime minister visited Egypt in 2008 and 2009 to attend the World Economic Forum in Cairo.

The president visited Jordan in October last year. In January 2010, he went to Syria and also had a stop-over in that country in August 2010.

Mr Zardari travelled to Libya in April 2009. The visit was followed by the prime minister’s in September the same year at the invitation of the late Col Muammar Qadhafi.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Pakistan in February 2010.

The FO’s document didn’t mention high-level bilateral visits by leaders of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai came to Islamabad more than once and Iranian President Ahmadinejad visited Pakistan in February this year.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul visited Islamabad in March 2010, followed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s trip in May this year.

Both the Pakistani president and the prime minister have regularly visited Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey.

Dr Nazir Hussain, who teaches international relations at the Quaid-i-Azam University, says that geo-strategic position, particularly that of the Muslim world, has changed in recent years and every country has its own interests to look after.

“For example,” he explains, “if Pakistan is showing its keenness in the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project, Saudi Arabia and other countries in its (Pakistan’s) camp have expressed reservations over it, which is then reflected in high-level bilateral visits between the countries.”

Moreover, Dr Hussain said, the so-called Arab Spring and the ongoing Syrian crisis had also put the Muslim countries in various leagues, and their leaders were in the process of re-alignment.

In response to a question, he said in the realm of international relations, high-level visits mattered a lot.


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Comments (13) Closed

T.M. Reddy Oct 16, 2012 05:02am
China a close ally, visit are very often and references are too many... Pakistan may be wrong side of the light... Anyway, good luck Pakistan. People are realizing it.
abc Oct 15, 2012 08:00pm
Yes. The great Imran Khan and Zahid hamid has answer to all the questions. They will certainly lead pakistan to its glorious Islamic destiny
abc Oct 15, 2012 08:04pm
Its OK, if the Pakstani diaspora doesnt visit the country. Fortunately, the foreign remittence was more.
abc Oct 15, 2012 08:06pm
I'm sue everything will change with the change in leadership.
Vigilant Oct 15, 2012 09:18am
Muslim brotherly countries is just a myth....everyone look-after their own interests. Secondly Pakistani leadership visit these rich countries for loans not for bilateral interests......Ruling class what u have done to my country;
Abdur Razzaque Oct 15, 2012 09:04am
It is nothing else than due to the wrong, weak and appeasement foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan from the birth to today.
Imtiaz Faruqui Oct 15, 2012 03:42pm
Even sports team from other countries are shy to visit , for the western Leaders only the name Islamic republic is enough.
Amjad Wyne Oct 15, 2012 05:25am
Forget the visits, no one wants to have even a photoop with Pakistan's current leadership.
Michael Malcolm Oct 15, 2012 09:42am
i fully agree for only compulsion to visit their families when they have not seen them for years. Unfortunately, the common Pakistani are NEVER safe in their own homeland when the Ministers, Bureaucrats and rich have their body guards, how can one expect dignitaries even from Muslim world visit in an unhealthy, unsafe and corrupt Government. On the other hand both the President and PM visit resulted as an achievement which was only expressed by them as a great successful visit. An EYE wash.
Morad 786 Oct 15, 2012 06:21am
What should also matter is how many Pakistanis Overseas are visiting Pakistan as it is a good source of foreign currency and confidence! If you see the statistics, Pakistanis in the West or Middle East have reduced their interaction/travel to Pakistan because of the growing Crime, Vilolence as well as terrorism. I for one can tell you that People are only going to Pakistan as a last resort for as short as possible and with as less family members as possibl;e...
manghirmalani Oct 15, 2012 02:01pm
Russian President cancelled the visit
Raw is War Oct 15, 2012 06:53am
Habib Manavi Oct 16, 2012 04:06am
Ooh dear! every one is trying its best to leave the country as so did i and living illegaly in other country. what to stay for when there is nothing left. there is crime, prejudice, target killing and lastly the rapidly increasing street crimes