'Saudi Threatened To Expel 4 Mn Pakistanis If Imran Attended KL Summit'

NEW DELHI -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 Iran, 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.

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.

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