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Saudi Arabia sees Turkey, backed by Malaysia and Pakistan, as a challenge to its leadership in the Islamic world, as the three nations have in the last decade strengthened their alliance…writes Aarti Tikoo Singh

ANKARA, Jan. 4, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan attend a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, on Jan. 4, 2019. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan paid an official visit to Turkey on Jan. 3 and 4. (Xinhua/Mustafa Kaya/IANS) by .
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has revealed that Pakistan abstained from the Kuala Lumpur Islamic summit because the Saudi Arabia government threatened economic sanctions against it.

The Islamic summit hosted by Malaysia earlier this week had excluded countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who was slated to speak at the summit, canceled his trip at the last minute following which his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad attempted to pacify Saudi Arabia by assuring the Kingdom that the summit was open to all Islamic nations.

Saudi Arabia sees Turkey, backed by Malaysia and Pakistan, as a challenge to its leadership in the Islamic world, as the three nations have in the last decade strengthened their alliance.

Daily Sabah Diplomacy on Friday quoted Erdogan saying that it was “unfortunate” that Saudi Arabia “pressures” Pakistan.

He divulged that the Kingdom had threatened to withdraw the loan from Pakistan’s Central bank and replace 4 million Pakistanis working in Saudi with Bangladeshi workers.

Pakistan has been facing a major balance of payment crisis for which it has sought massive loans from Saudi Arabia besides the global financial institution, International Monetary Fund.

Lashing out at Saudi Arabia, the Turkish President said the Kingdom has used similar threatening tactics against Pakistan due to its economic difficulties.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 21, 2018 (Xinhua) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad addresses civil servants at the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya, Malaysia, May 21, 2018. Core members of the cabinet led by newly elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad were sworn in on Monday, as the 92-year-old leader vowed to restore the former glory of the country. (Xinhua/Chong Voon Chung/IANS) by .
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad

As a result, “Pakistan had to obey such threats”, he said, adding that Saudi and the UAE bullied other Muslim countries too.

“This is not a first for the countries since they have the tendency to put pressure on other countries in doing or not doing things,” he told the Turkish media in Kuala Lumpur.

While boasting about Turkey’s efforts to help other Muslim nations, Erdogan said that his country will continue its cooperation with Malaysia, Qatar and Iran over both regional and international issues.

Pak PM was pressurised after India reached out to Saudi

The summit was aimed at providing Prime Minister Khan a platform to censure India over Kashmir and Citizenship Amendment Act, sources told IANS.

Turkey and Malaysia have backed Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. But Khan was pressurised by the key Islamic countries after India reached out to Saudi Arabia and other allies in the Muslim world, sources said.

However, Prime Minister Mahathir in his official clarification said that Khan had conveyed to him about changes in his plans yesterday. Khan was to speak on the “state of affairs of the Islamic world,” the statement said.

“The KL Summit which is into its 5th edition is a non-governmental organization initiative, supported by the Malaysian government and is not intended to create a new bloc as alluded to by some of its critics. In addition, the summit is not a platform to discuss about religion or religious affairs but specifically to address the state of affairs of the Muslim Ummah,” Mahathir said.

Without mentioning any names, Mahathir, however, went on to criticize the non-Muslim nations for the persecution of Muslims. “The summit attempts to spark a new approach in Ummah collaboration,” he said.

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