Pakistan’s foreign minister stresses that Saudi Arabia must ‘show leadership’ on Kashmir at OIC forum
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday criticized the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for failing to convene a meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers on the Kashmir crisis.
In an interview with ARY News, he said that he was “respectfully” asking the OIC to call the meeting. “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,” he said, claiming Islamabad could not keep waiting for the OIC.
Pakistan has been urging the OIC to convene a meeting of foreign ministers of the 57-member bloc since August 2019, when Delhi abrogated the special constitutional status of India-held Kashmir. Qureshi has maintained that the meeting is necessary to convey a united Muslim front on the Kashmir issue.
Reportedly, one of the key reasons for the delay in calling the meeting has been Pakistan ally Saudi Arabia. The Gulf kingdom has repeatedly questioned the need to summon a meeting specifically on Kashmir.
During his interview, Qureshi said that Pakistan had skipped the Kuala Lumpur Summit last December on the request of Saudi Arabia and it was time for Riyadh to “show leadership” on the Kashmir issue. “We have our own sensitivities. You have to realize this. Gulf countries should understand this,” he said, adding the time for diplomatic niceties had come to an end. He said Pakistan had always been ready to sacrifice for the security and protection of Saudi Arabia and it was time for the Gulf kingdom to respond in kind.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, during an interview with Al Jazeera this week, claimed he had skipped the Malaysia summit to prevent rifts from developing within the Muslim ummah.
Ready to retaliate
The foreign minister said Pakistan did not support aggression, but was fully prepared to retaliate effectively if India indulged in any misadventure. “The world should understand that Pakistan will have to react,” he said, adding that the possibility of India staging a false flag operation could not be ruled out.
“Anything or any drama can be expected from India’s Modi government, which is desperate and adventurist. But Inshaallah we are ready and prepared to respond effectively,” he said.
To a question about any back-channel contacts with India on the issues like Siachen and Sir Creek, he said no talks could be held at this time. “Sitting with the government of Narendra Modi is tantamount to wastage of time,” he said.
Referring to India’s ongoing blockades in India-held Kashmir, Qureshi claimed Modi had lost the battle of “hearts and minds” in the disputed region, adding the just freedom struggle of Kashmiris could not be suppressed through force.
The foreign minister also commented on Modi’s decision to lay the foundation for the construction of the Ram Mandir at the site of the Babri mosque on Aug. 5, saying it would further hurt the sentiments of Muslims already suffering under Hindutva rule in India.
Qureshi said all of Pakistan, including the government, opposition and all political forces, were united on the issue of Kashmir and stood with its people in their freedom struggle and their right to self-determination.