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May 26, 2017

King Salman regrets Nawaz, others not given time to speak

National

May 26, 2017

ISLAMABAD: King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia has apologised to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as well as other leaders for not affording them an opportunity to address the recently held US-Arab-Islamic Summit in Riyadh.

Salman made these remarks during the Summit, as Muslim leaders were expected to present their point of view on the fight against terrorism, especially Pakistan, where world capitals have acknowledged its role in this regard.

There was outrage in Pakistan on the Royal snub, which saw Sharif being denied an opportunity to deliver his prepared address, especially when Pakistan is the leading Muslim nation which has made tremendous sacrifices in the war against militancy and terrorism.

The issue was raised at the weekly media briefing at the Foreign Office, with the spokesman explaining that, “This was due to serious shortage of time available on that evening. Nearly 30 plus Muslim leaders were expected to deliver their remarks. However, due to severe paucity of time (as the Summit started behind schedule) only a few leaders, besides the Saudi King and the US President, could make their remarks on the occasion. The King personally apologised to the remaining Muslim leaders, who could not get the opportunity to speak”.

Another issue that ruffled feathers at home was President Trump ignoring naming Pakistan as a state which had not only contributed significantly while fighting terrorism but one which had sacrificed thousands of its security forces.

Pakistan’s explanation could be taken with a pinch of salt as there did not appear to be many takers for this slight by Trump.

“As for President Trump mentioning of countries as victims of terrorism, if one closely examine the speech, he named those countries which were not present at the Summit. These included Russia, China, South Africa, Europe and India. In the paragraph that followed, he mentioned the sacrifices and contributions of Muslim countries, Arab states and Middle Eastern countries en-masse, and highlighted how these nations suffered at the hands of terrorism”, the spokesman said.

He further pointed out that the government has lost count of the occasions on which the world leaders and countries have acknowledged our sacrifices and losses, both human lives and economic.

“Pakistan’s success in eliminating the terrorists has also been repeatedly praised, including by the US at various levels of their leadership. Let me add here that during the opportunity that the Summit afforded through interactions with a number of leaders, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made references to all the important points, including Pakistan’s sacrifices and losses in the fight against terrorism, “he stated.

The world watched appalled, when Trump treated Iran as an outcast in a room where many states have warm bilateral ties with Tehran, to a query, the spokesman clearly indicated that this was not Pakistan’s stated position.

In fact Pakistan is all for playing a mediatory role between Iran and Saudi Arabia. “We have said it a number of times that our principled position on our relations with the members of Islamic world very clearly. Based on the points made by the prime minister, our press release clearly states that we ‘reaffirm our commitment to unity among Islamic countries’. We will continue to play a constructive role in this regard whenever the situation warrants. We remain committed to bridging differences within the Muslim Ummah, and bringing the countries closer”, he added.

On the military coalition, that is being headed by a former Pakistani army chief, the spokesman exclaimed, the Terms of Reference (TORs) of the alliance are yet to be finalised. “The defence ministers of the participating countries will meet and discuss the modalities of the coalition. We must wait until we have all the information to comment on its outcome. We shouldn’t indulge in speculations”, he cautioned.

Even as the Indian army has not completed an inquiry against one of its junior officers for using a civilian Kashmir youth as a human shield, eyebrows have been raised and condemnation made even inside India, for the Indian army chief to award his officer for this inhuman act.

“Awarding Major Leetul Gogoi, who brazenly used a Kashmiri youth as a human shield, is condemnable. It is a crime and an insult to humanity. Amnesty International called awarding a move to condone human rights abuses in IHK”, the spokesman responded. He further added that this is not first time that the Indian occupation forces have displayed such cowardice and inhumanity.

“In Indian Held Kashmir, the Indian occupation forces are involved in acts of grave violence against civilians, rapes, extra-judicial murders, arson attacks, kidnappings, violence against Kashmiri children and desecration of mosques and other sacred places. International community, particularly, the UN should take cognizance to act”, he said.

The spokesman also pointed out to the heavy deployment of Indian forces at and around the historic Jama Masjid in Srinagar every Friday, to create an atmosphere of fear and harassment in wake of the upcoming holy month of Ramazan as thousands of people from other districts and far off places travel to Srinagar to offer prayers in the Grand Masjid. To a query, the spokesman brushed aside comments from a UN report which warned that the CPEC will further increase tensions between Pakistan and India.

“China Pakistan Economic Corridor is an economic development project between Pakistan and China. It is a flagship project of China’s One Belt One Road initiative, which entails infrastructure development and regional connectivity. CPEC will benefit not just Pakistan and China but also the entire region, because of the economic potential it holds”, said the spokesman.

In this context he added that more than two dozen countries have expressed their interest in benefiting from or joining CPEC. “It is purely in this context that CPEC project must be seen. I see no reasons for any country to make it controversial or a reason for dispute”, commented the spokesman.