No Loan, Oil Supply For Pakistan: Saudi

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Pak premier Imran Khan with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. File photo

LONDON: With Saudi Arabia ending loan and oil supply to Pakistan, the decade-long friendship between the two countries has finally ended, reported Middle East Monitor.

Pakistan was also made to pay back USD 1 billion to Saudi Arabia, which was part of a $6.2 billion package announced by Saudi Arabia in November 2018, which included a total of $3 billion in loans and an oil credit facility amounting to $3.2 billion.

The deals were then signed when Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman made a visit to Pakistan in February last year, the Middle East Monitor reported.

This development came after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had given a blunt warning to Saudi Arabia-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for not taking a stance against India over the Kashmir issue.

Qureshi was quoted as saying by the ARY channel, “If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris.”

“I am once again respectfully telling OIC that a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is our expectation,” he further stated.

As Pakistan pulled out of the Kuala Lumpur summit after Saudi Arabia’s “request”, it now expects Riyadh to “show leadership on this issue,” he added.

Islamabad has been pushing for the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) since India abrogated Article 370, which gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

After Pakistan failed to gather support from the OIC members on Kashmir on May 22, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “The reason is that we have no voice and there is a total division amongst (us). We cannot even come together as a whole on the OIC meeting on Kashmir.”

Though Pakistan reportedly made attempts to push its narrative of raising the issue of rising Islamophobia in India in its agenda, Maldives, an ally of India, thwarted the move and said, “Isolated statements by motivated people and disinformation campaigns on social media should not be construed as representative of the feelings of 1.3 billion.”

Maldives Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Thilmeeza Hussain, said that alleging Islamophobia in the context of India would be factually incorrect.

“It would be detrimental to the religious harmony in the South Asian region. Islam has existed in India for centuries and it is the second-largest religion in India, with 14.2 per cent of the country’s population,” she said.

Pak Seeks US Help on Kashmir, Again

Pakistan on Tuesday urged United States to intervene and diffuse tensions with India over the lingering Kashmir issue.

In a virtual conference with Ambassador David Hale, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs at the US State Department, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood said that it was imperative to take steps to prevent escalation of tensions in South Asia and to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan has been trying to garner international support against India for withdrawing Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcating it into two Union territories.

Mahmood held wide-ranging consultations with Ambassador Hale.

The two sides reviewed the bilateral relationship, its present trajectory, and future direction and also exchanged views on peace and stability in South Asia, the Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement.

Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington Asad Majeed Khan and US Charge d’affaires in Islamabad Ambassador Paul Jones along with senior officials from both sides attended the virtual consultations, it said.

Mahmood said Pakistan attached high priority to its relationship with the US with a focus on enhanced economic engagement and people-to-people contacts.

He reiterated Pakistan’s desire to forge a strong and mutually beneficial economic partnership with the US and added that a broad-based and enduring partnership between the two countries, as envisioned by Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Donald Trump, is a factor of stability in the region, the Foreign Office said.

The two sides also shared their perspectives on the progress made in the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.

The Foreign Secretary reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process and expressed the hope that the Afghan parties would seize this historic opportunity and secure an inclusive and comprehensive political solution through intra-Afghan negotiations, the statement said.

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