Alwaght- Saudi Arabia pressured Pakistan not to attend a recently concluded summit of Muslim nations in the Malaysian capital, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said adding this was not the first time that Riyadh has threatened Islamabad.
Leaders and senior representatives from some 20 Muslim nations gathered in Kuala Lumpur this week to discuss issues facing Muslims.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had earlier accepted an invitation from Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, canceled his visit after concerns from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed on Tuesday.
The Middle East Eye (MEE) news portal reported on the same day that Khan had made the last-minute decision after being summoned to Riyadh for talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khan paid a daylong visit to Riyadh earlier this week in a bid to assuage the kingdom's worries about the summit. However, intense pressure finally compelled Pakistan to skip the conference, reports said.
Khan on Tuesday met Erdogan and took him into confidence over his decision to not attend the Malaysia summit, local media reported, citing foreign ministry sources.
Also, Khan telephoned his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir and expressed regret at not being able to attend the summit, local English-language daily The News reported.
"This isn't the first time that the Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi administrations have taken such an attitude,” Erdogan told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
"Unfortunately, we observe that Saudi Arabia is putting pressure on Pakistan. See, there are [Saudi] promises to Pakistan regarding its central bank," he said.
The MEE reported last year that the Pakistani government was in a dire financial position before securing a $6 billion bailout from Saudi Arabia.
"Beyond everything else, there are four million Pakistan workers in Saudi Arabia," said Erdogan. "They [Saudi Arabia] tell them that 'we can send them back, and instead take Bangladeshis".
He added that the kingdom also threatened to withdraw money it had deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan.
According to Erdogan, Pakistan had to comply with the Saudi wishes due to its “harsh economic conditions".
Politicians and journalists took to social media to denounce Khan’s decision to stay away from the summit.
"Backing out from KL summit: when Turkey, Malaysia, Iran supported Pakistan on Kashmir like a rock," Senator Mushahid Hussain, a senior leader of main opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said in a tweet.
"Terrible news Imran Khan’s Malaysia visit is canceled on the orders of Mohammad bin Salman,” senior journalist Umar Cheema tweeted, referring to the Saudi crown prince.
The Saudi Embassy in Pakistan on Saturday sought to gloss over the incident, denying media reports that the kingdom had “pressurized and threatened" Pakistan to refrain from participating in the Kuala Lumpur Summit.
Backing out from KL Summit: when Malaysia,Turkey, Iran supported Pakistan on Kashmir like a rock, while Modi is so discredited at home & abroad, is very damaging for Pakistan’s core interests on Kashmir + Pakistani Int’l credibility will be in tatters after this shocking U-turn!
It said relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were cordial and did not require the use of threatening language.
Observers believes that Riyadh suspected that Iran and Qatar together with Turkey and Malaysia would wean away Pakistan from Saudi Arabia at the summit.
The Saudi king also stayed away, fearing Iranian and Turkish presidents as well as Qatar's emir would cold-shoulder him.