Before I proceed with the detailed account of Riyadh Conference, I was carried away by the thought of our missing a flight from Jeddah to Islamabad. This missed flight, in fact, came as a direct blessing. Had we not missed this flight, we would not have got the golden opportunities of paying our respects at the Holy Mausoleum of Holy Prophet (PBUH) nor could we submit ourselves before the House of Allah. Thus, we could also have been deprived of having a sacred glimpse of that house of Holy Prophet’s Companion Kulsoom bin Hadam (God be pleased with the Companion) situated opposite Masjid-e-Qaba whose walls are still intact even after a lapse of 1400 years and in which hospitable Sindhi friend Saudia-bred Ali Seyyal resides along with his family. Had we not missed the flight we would not have been able to drink water from that well of Kulsoom bin Hadam’s house whose water was sweetened by Holy Prophet (PBUH) by adding his saliva.
Likewise, we could not eat the dates of that garden whose dates had been eaten by Holy Prophet (PBUH) and could not offer Nawafil (optional prayers) in that mosque situated in the same house where Holy Prophet (PBUH) said prayers took rest and held consultations with the First Caliph Hazrat Abu Bakr (God be pleased with the Companion) during the construction of Masjid-e-Qaba.
Add other blessings to the opportunities created by the missed flight, they include the opportunity to visit Pakistani police officer Nasrullah Chaudhry who had come for Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) and eat Arabic dish ‘Mundi’ besides having a constant sacred glimpse of Masjid-e-Nabvi. And had we not missed the flight, we could not have gotten the opportunity of eating green spinach cooked with butter along with chapatis made of desi flour in the house of Abdul Jabbar Agha who is mentally away from Muslim League-N but is close to Hussain Nawaz in his heart.
It is pertinent to mention at this point that during all the three days of Riyadh Conference I had been insisting upon my fellow-traveller and very dear Saleem Safi to perform Umrah on return.
Every time he would give the same answer; “We have not come with the intention of performing Umrah and, moreover, Umrah is performed with one’s own money”. So, when our flight got missed after obtaining the boarding card while we reached Riyadh from Jeddah and when we had to buy tickets out of our own pocket for the next flight from Jeddah to Islamabad, I inquired from Saleem Safi while he stood outside the Jeddah airport: “My good Sir, now that we have got a spare day and spent from our own pocket, doesn’t it justify to perform Umrah”?
Saleem Safi smiled compromisingly and said, “Yes, now Umrah seems appropriate.” In this manner, Allah not only helped us to perform our Umrah, rather it would be more appropriate to say that He showered more blessings on us than what we had thought of.
Okay! I was about to mention the Riyadh Conference. We had gone on May 19 on the invitation of the Saudi government for one conference but we had to encounter three conferences under the banner of ‘Together We Prevail’. One, Saudi-American CEOs’ Business Conference, which was attended by heads of top 90 companies of both the countries; two, the Gulf countries’ conference in which Donald Trump sat with the Arab countries’ head for the first time whereas the third was the Arab-Islamic-American summit which was attended by heads of more than 50 Islamic countries and delegations.
During these three days, scores of agreements were signed between Saudi Arabia and USA and it turned out to be an occasion where Muslim leaders assembled under one roof after a long time, where Anti-Extremism Centre was inaugurated, where the Strategic Vision Declaration was inked, where Joint Working Group was set up, where agreements worth more than $350 billion were signed between Saudi Arabia whose trade volume is 37 billion dollars and USA. And not only that both America and Saudi Arabia came on the same page, not only that America sat with the Muslim world rather the East and the West joined hands together for the first time to chalk out plans against terrorism and extremism.
The Riyadh Conference remained significant also because the American president sat on this occasion along with the Muslim fraternity at a juncture when Syria has been left in ruins, when Iraq’s reconstruction and re-development is essential in the wake of its going 100 years back, when the elimination of terrorists from Yemen has become a challenge and when it has become a need of the hour to help Libya, Egypt and Tunisia which are striving for peace and then America and Muslim countries joined hands together at such a time when not only 95 per cent Islamic world is a victim of terrorism and extremism and radicalization is knocking at the Saudi door while the peace of the whole world is in jeopardy at the hands of terrorists.
But, friends! On one hand, all this was happening whereas on the other hand, at our end, the situation was such that conspiracy theories were being contrived and there was cacophony of voices all around. And we have among us a plenty of Platos, Aristotles and Hippocrates who remained engaged in finding faults. Someone objected to the welcome given to Donald Trump while others were enraged over the dance performed by King Salman and Donald Trump. Some were in pain and anguish over the neglect of Nawaz Sharif whereas still others were irked over the pompous protocol given to Donald Trump.
Some rejected Riyadh Conference by painting it as an anti-Iran alliance and some rejected the conference for bringing Hezbollah and Hamas into the category of Al-Qaeda and Daesh. Some well-wishers were found criticising the target and way of working of Riyadh Conference while some far-sighted ones were likening the conference to the strengthening of Israel.
Undoubtedly, everyone is free to give his opinion and everyone has a right to criticise. But, the first thing is that when a terrorist group in Yemen that seized power at gun-point extends terrorism up to Madinah Munawwara, then should we not give this right to the Saudi government that it should work out a plan for its survival (the question also arises as to who we are to give a piece of advice to the Saudi government and make decisions on that count). The second thing is that who on earth doesn’t want to establish friendship with America? Which country of the contemporary world is not having interests in America? Leave others, isn’t it a reality that during the Obama tenure, Iran abided by every American advice and isn’t it a truth that Iranian nation made Rouhani the president of their country for the second time on his slogan of improving ties with the Western world and then those who look at Iran and Saudi Arabia with the same angle, probably forget that on one hand is Saudi Arabia, which didn’t recognise Bangladesh till we did, which provided us all kinds of help besides giving us free-of-charge oil after atomic tests, which stood by Pakistan in hours of distress and stood the test of times. Even at present, two million Pakistanis living there are remitting foreign exchange worth six billion dollars annually (illegally settled one million Pakistanis are in addition to that) and Saudi Arabia is our natural ally.
On the other end is Iran with which our ties have never been cordial after the Shah of Iran, which entered into a defence agreement in a broad daylight with India although the latter has never given acceptance to Pakistan’s existence. And, it is in India that Iran’s 33 per cent exports are consumed and it is the same country which has handed over its Chahbahar Port to India in competition with Gwadar and its army chief has threatened to teach a lesson to Pakistan and not only that the business of Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav has been going on in Iran but his passport was Iranian also. Then, we should think that the world has changed. Today, China is our biggest ally but it is not a Muslim country whereas Iran and Afghanistan are allies of India despite being Islamic states and our biggest well-wisher is Turkey but it has recognised our enemy Israel.
And then the critics of Riyadh Conference have forgotten that even if a friend is managing a proxy war and even if a real brother is indulging in terrorism and extremism, it is totally unacceptable. Is it possible that the house is on fire and the dweller doesn’t extinguish fire on the plea that it has been ignited by a friend, and ignore it on the plea that the fire-setter is our brother-in-Islam.
But the most deplorable thing is that in “I don’t agree” mode, we ignored the most important message that ‘Together We Prevail’.
Undoubtedly, ‘Together We Prevail’ on the national as well as international plane! And undoubtedly ‘Together We Previal’ even on the external front. Believe me, as much unity the Muslim Ummah needs today it was not needed in the past. Therefore, it is about time that instead of gossiping, finding faults and indulging in conspiracy theories, and instead of wasting time and strength, all should join hands together to wipe out terrorism from the roots but with unity and harmony because ‘Together We Prevail’.