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FM Qureshi says no ill will between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia

The foreign minister says that it is his humble request to the forum to understand the state and emotions of Kashmiris. — APP/File

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday cast aside the idea that there is any ill will between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, however noting that he had been persuading the oil-producing country’s officials to call a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) over the Kashmir issue for a year.

Speaking in Geo News programme “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath”, Qureshi said that Riyadh was still Islamabad’s ally and that it acknowledges the feelings and aspirations of Pakistanis.

The foreign minister’s clarification on the matter came after his recent remarks on ARY News, where he said that Pakistan would have to move forward for the cause of Kashmir “with or without” Saudi Arabia.

He said that when Kashmiris are gang raped, tortured, and have to endure other ordeals, Pakistan had put forth the case before a brotherly country, not in front of strangers.

The foreign minister said that Saudi Arabia was a key player and that with the oil-producing country by Pakistan’s side a constructive OIC meeting could be held.

Explaining why he was adamant about calling a session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, he said that the OIC is a forum, second only to the United Nations. He said it has had a historic position on Kashmir, and the OIC had formed a contact group on the disputed territory as well.

“The group issued statements, joint communique, and has repeatedly expressed its concerns over the human rights situation in Kashmir,” he said.

“Azadari is banned, they [Kashmiris] could not offer Eid prayers and were unable to perform the ritual of sacrifice. Then there is the state of Muslims in New Delhi and the pressing matter of Babri Masjid. This [OIC] is a suitable platform to raise the issue,” FM Qureshi said.

The foreign minister said that it was his humble request to the forum to understand the state and emotions of Kashmiris.

Talking about the recent $1 billion payment to Saudi Arabia that Pakistan had to take from China, he said that the oil-producing country’s economy had been hit hard due to the pandemic.

“I am thankful to Saudi Arabia for helping us in our desperate times and even when our International Monetary Fund package was in the final phase, they helped us,” he said.

The foreign minister said that he had a telephonic conversation with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and that he presented the current situation of Kashmir before him, expressing his concerns over India’s unilateral decision.

“I expressed my concerns over India’s illegal and unilateral decision that has made the entire region insecure […] A false flag operation has unforeseen consequences,” he said.

Pompeo assured me that the US would hold talks with India to resolve these matters on the table, he said.

Speaking about the reaction of the Opposition on his comments over Saudi Arabia, Qureshi said that he was disheartened that they were politicising the situation.

“The opposition is politicking over the issue and they are not able to comprehend the matter from my perspective,” he said, adding: “On the one hand, the opposition demands that we raise Kashmir’s issue on every possible forum and after UN — where we have raised this issue three time in a year despite India’s tactics — the next biggest platform is OIC.”

He said that he was writing letters to Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto to know their opinion so that a consensus could be formed.

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