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Imran Khan leaves for Malaysia to placate PM Mahathir for skipping key Islamic summit

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. File   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on February 3 embarked on a two-day visit to Malaysia to placate the country’s leadership after he skipped a major summit of Muslim nations in Kuala Lumpur, solidify the bilateral strategic partnership and discuss the situation in South Asia.

Prime Minister Khan’s visit will contribute to further strengthening the historic Pakistan-Malaysia ties and taking bilateral cooperation to a higher level, the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.

Mr. Khan’s visit to Malaysia at the invitation of his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad comes after he skipped the Kuala Lumpur summit of some 20 Muslim countries in December attended by leaders from countries like Iran, Turkey and Qatar.

Mr. Khan did not attend the summit, reportedly due to pressure exerted by Saudi Arabia, which had extended liberal financial assistance to Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government to stave off the looming economic crisis, Dawn newspaper reported.

The Express Tribune, quoting sources, reported that the visit of Prime Minister Khan is aimed at removing misgivings Malaysia may have about Pakistan for skipping the Kuala Lumpur summit.

Pakistan initially confirmed its participation at the summit but changed its mind after Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries voiced concerns over it. Riyadh is reported to have viewed the summit as an attempt to create a new Islamic bloc, the reports said.

J&K situation

During his visit to Malaysia, Prime Minister Khan will also highlight the human rights and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir, his office tweeted on February 2.

He would also emphasise the importance of “averting risks to regional peace & stability posed by India” and underscore the importance of peaceful resolution of Jammu and Kashmir, it said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir has already angered India with his provocative comments on Kashmir and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, prompting New Delhi to impose restrictions on the import of refined palm oil from Malaysia, the top supplier of the commodity to the country.

Mr. Khan’s two-day working visit is set to further enhance and solidify long-standing brotherly relations between the two nations, Malaysia’s official news agency Bernama reported on February 3.

Mr. Khan’s second visit to Kuala Lumpur since becoming Prime Minister in August 2018 would include a high-level Pakistani delegation including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and other senior ministers.

The former cricketer-turned-Prime Minister is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Mahathir in Putrajaya on February 4 morning, the report said.

Regional peace and security

The two Prime Ministers also met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Session in New York in September last.

Mr. Khan is also scheduled to address scholars at the Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) on regional peace and security.

The two leaders share great camaraderie as both have similar views in many areas, such as on combatting corruption and issues concerning Muslim ummah like Islamophobia, Palestine and the Rohingya’s plight, the report said, avoiding any mention of Kashmir.

Their meeting is expected to discuss on matters of mutual interest and a follow up on Mr. Mahathir’s March 2019 official visit to Islamabad where both leaders had agreed to elevate Malaysia-Pakistan relations to a strategic partnership that will mark a new level of bilateral cooperation, it said.

The two countries are expected to step up cooperation in the trade of palm oil, agricultural products, retail, halal products, automotive parts, energy, science and technology, and telecommunication investment, the Bernama report said.

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Printable version | Oct 30, 2020 4:25:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/imran-khan-leaves-for-malaysia-to-placate-pm-mahathir-for-skipping-key-islamic-summit/article30727023.ece

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