Riyadh plans OIC FMs meeting on Kashmir

Saudi Arabia is planning to convene a meeting of the foreign ministers of member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for a discussion on the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir, according to a diplomatic source.

This was conveyed by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud during a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the Foreign Office.

Prince Faisal was on a day-long visit to Pakistan to convey the Saudi leadership’s gratitude for not participating in the recently held Kuala Lumpur summit in view of the kingdom’s reservations and dispelling the impression that Riyadh’s attitude towards Islamabad was patronising.

Prince Faisal also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan. The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister Qureshi, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, ISI Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and other senior officials.

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Saudi foreign minister meets Imran and Qureshi, describes relations with Pakistan as ‘fraternal and strategic’

The KL summit had found strong support in Pakistan because of Saudi Arabia’s growing trade ties with India and OIC’s failure to take strong stance on Muslim causes.

“The two foreign ministers discussed OIC’s role in the advancement of the cause of Kashmir,” the FO said in a statement. Mr Qureshi briefed Mr Saud on the situation in occupied Kashmir in the aftermath of India’s Aug 5 move to annex the disputed region and the developing humanitarian crisis there.

He also spoke about the Indian government’s Hindu nationalist agenda as manifested by the recently enacted Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens and the systematic targeting of minorities in India, particularly Muslims.

PM Khan, meanwhile in his meeting with the Saudi foreign minister, said that ceasefire violations by India along the LoC were stoking tensions and imperiling regional peace and security. He urged the international community to play its role in ensuring respect for the rights and freedom of the Kashmiri people, facilitating a just solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and taking steps for the protection of minorities in India.

The Saudi foreign minister described relations with Pakistan as “fraternal and strategic” and conveyed the Saudi leadership’s appreciation for “the role played by Pakistan in maintaining regional peace and stability”. He reaffirmed the Saudi support for issues of core interest for Pakistan and desire for cementing ties with Pakistan in all fields.

Mr Saud said Riyadh remained committed to “core relationship” between the two countries and would further deepen the multi-faceted cooperation between the two countries.

According to the FO statement, Mr Qureshi, during his conversation, underscored the significance of bilateral trade and economic cooperation, security and defence cooperation, parliamentary exchanges and increased trade relations for strengthening the bilateral ties. He recalled Saudi investments, particularly in the petrochemical, mining and minerals and energy sectors, and asked for expanding the Road-to-Makkah project to other cities of Pakistan for facilitating greater number of pilgrims.

Road-to-Makkah is a pre-departure immigration facility, which is currently available at Islamabad International Airport, as a pilot project for easing arrival procedures for the pilgrims.

Prime Minister Khan, meanwhile, reminded about the Saudi commitment for investment in various sectors, particularly petrochemical, mining and renewable energy, and hoped that the Saudi team for development of the tourism sector would visit Pakistan soon.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had during PM Khan’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia promised to assist in development of Pakistan’s tourism sector.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2019