ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Pakistan decided to stay away from the recently concluded Kuala Lumpur summit because of Saudi Arabia’s threats of economic sanctions, a Turkish newspaper reported on Friday.
The meeting was shunned by Saudi Arabia and criticised for allegedly undermining the bigger Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Some analysts also suspected that Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to attend stemmed from fear of being diplomatically isolated by regional rivals Iran, Qatar and Turkey, all of whom were attending the summit.
Saudi state news agency SPA also reported that on a call with Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad, Saudi King Salman reaffirmed that such issues should be discussed through the OIC.
According to Daily Sabah, Erdogan, while speaking to Turkish media representatives, said that it was not the first time that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had put pressure on a country for doing or not doing certain things.
“Unfortunately, we see that Saudi Arabia pressures Pakistan. Now, there are promises that the country has given to Pakistan regarding the central bank. However, more than that, there are 4 million Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia. They (threaten by saying that they) would send (Pakistanis) back and re-employ Bangladeshis instead,” Erdogan was quoted as saying. He added that the kingdom has also threatened to withdraw money it had deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan.
According to Erdogan, Pakistan had to comply with the Saudi wishes “due to its economic difficulties”. The Foreign Office has yet to comment on Erdogan’s statement. ‘No representation from Pakistan at summit’
Pakistan was one of the first countries with which Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir shared his plans for holding the summit when he met Prime Minister Imran along with Erdogan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York in September.
Later, Imran Khan formally conveyed his acceptance of the invitation for attending the summit when Deputy Foreign Minister of Malaysia Marzuki Bin Haji Yahya called on him in Islamabad on Nov 29.
Last week, however, reports of Prime Minister Imran cancelling his trip to Malaysia started making rounds. After his visit to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the premier decided to stay away from the Kuala Lumpur summit. According to reports, he withdrew due to pressure exerted by the kingdom, which had extended a helping hand to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government during its early days to stave off economic crisis.