Steps Saudi leadership should consider for uniting Ummah, reactivating OIC

Little justification for KSA to have so warm ties with USA, patron of Israel: Will have to quarantine ego to resolve differences with important OIC states

Published: 12:34 PM, 22 Aug, 2020
Steps Saudi leadership should consider for uniting Ummah, reactivating OIC
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Foreign Office’s Thursday assertion that fraternal relations and close contact between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia remain unchanged citing the outcome of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s visit to the kingdom as a testimony is a very encouraging and welcome news.  

The two brotherly Islamic countries have had ideal bilateral relations for many decades and they should maintain them in the future in all situations because of their religious obligation and to be able to play a more effective role in uniting the disunited Ummah

The FO spokesman said Pakistan values Saudi Arabia’s important role in the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir. 

The statement is important as some tension between the two countries was witnessed when Foreign Minister Shah Mehmud Qureshi criticized the Saudi-led OIC for dilly-dallying on convening a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers on occupied Kashmir. 

The leader from Multan had warned to convene a meeting of the Muslim countries even outside the OIC fold if the 57-state bloc continued with its reluctance on calling the said meeting. 

The Saudi leadership did not expect such a threatening statement from the foreign minister of a friendly country. The feeling was only natural – just as natural was the complaint made by Mr Qureshi.  

It will not be wrong to say that the feelings on both sides were because of the closeness of the two countries.  

What is more appreciable is the fact that Pakistan did not hide its true feelings nor did it camouflage them by hypocrisy.  

After Mr Qureshi’s statement, a former Saudi Ambassador to Islamabad (who served between 2001 and 2009) Dr Ali Awadh Asseri penned a 2,500-plus-word article in Arab News, the most circulated English language Jeddah-based newspaper.  

In this article titled “Saudi Arabia and Pakistan: A partnership too important to fail”, he wrote: “I was saddened to come across FM Qureshi’s comments on the OIC’s role on Kashmir which are far from reality”.  

He said a clarification was necessary after Mr Qureshi’s statement to set the record straight. 

In the write-up the former ambassador recalled the occasions when Saudi Arabia came to Pakistan’s help and the resolutions already passed on Kashmir. He further said that the two countries have always enjoyed an incomparable level of understanding and friendship based on common religious, cultural and social values.      

Referring to Foreign Minister’s statement about convening a meeting on Kashmir, the former Saudi ambassador said if it was a veiled reference towards another Kuala Lumpur-style gathering, then it is a dangerous proposition that could be least expected from a brotherly country. 

Then, he said, Pakistan had indeed achieved a major success by managing to convene an emergency consultative session of the UN Security Council immediately after India’s annexation of Jammu and Kashmir and imposition of lockdown in the disputed territory. 

Dr Asseri said, unfortunately since then, the Foreign Ministry under Mr Qureshi has been unable to build upon this initial success in international diplomacy on Kashmir. “So, one plausible explanation for his frustrating bid to blame the OIC is to cover up his own failure in Kashmir”. 

The former Saudi ambassador defended his country’s decision to make huge investment in India.

“Of course”, he said, “it is a reality that Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in India as part of its growing economic engagement with Asia”. 

India, he continued, has as many workers in Saudi Arabia, if not more, as Pakistan does, numbering close to three million and contributing billions of dollars in remittances back home.

Justifying this investment plan, he said: "Does such a deepening economic engagement or interlocking dependence not provide Saudi Arabia with a realistic clout to influence India’s policy for Kashmir peace?” 

This is the first time that a Saudi dignitary has come up with this justification for the kingdom’s huge investment plans for a country which is butchering Muslims and has made their living in the so-called biggest democracy miserable.  

The veteran diplomat is, perhaps, forgetting that had these investment plans been valued by India, it would not have annexed Kashmir in the first place or had withdrawn the illegal step after so much criticism from the world community. 

While the Saudi role in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute would become clear in times ahead, it must bear in mind that no two Islamic countries are as closer to each other as are Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Even a common man in Pakistan has a special place in his heart for the kingdom. It will not be wrong to say that if KSA has oil wells, Pakistan has countless "sincerity and love wells" for Saudi Arabia across the country.  

Pakistan truly wants the KSA to lead the Ummah – and help the Palestinians and Kashmiris get their due rights. For this purpose, the kingdom will have to play a role that other countries, for their expediencies, are hesitant to perform.  In fact, KSA should take care of Muslims across the world.

As of now the Saudi leadership is not coming up to the expectations of the most of Muslims. For example, its reaction over UAE’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with enemy Israel – and that too after several days of meaningful silence – cannot satisfy the ordinary Muslim. 

The assurance that KSA will not follow UAE in establishing ties with the Jewish state is not sufficient. 

This assurance loses weight after Israeli prime minister’s reported announcement that the Jewish state is starting flights to UAE via Saudi Arabia. When Riyadh doesn’t recognize Israel and (as per claims) has no plan to follow UAE, how can the Israeli prime minister talk of starting flights to UAE via KSA? 

If KSA really regards Israel an enemy, the Jewish state’s prime minister cannot even think of his country being permitted to get landing rights in the kingdom. Likewise, there is little justification for President Trump to claim that KSA is also among the countries that will have diplomatic relations with Israel. 

Many say that if KSA regards Israel as its enemy it is left with no justification to have so cordial relations with the United States, the strongest supporter of the Jewish state. The kingdom is aware of the saying that enemy's friend is enemy. 

The Saudi leadership, because of its status in the OIC, is expected to play an effective role in unifying the Ummah. For this purpose, it should rise above its personal interests and resolve differences between those who have turned against each other for one reason or the other. 

It should have limitless tolerance for the Islamic countries that are opposing it for reason or the other. 'Quarantining' its ego it should extend a hand of friendship even to the angry brothers in the OIC, settle differences with them and join hands to strengthen the Ummah. Unless the KSA shows such a large-heartedness, the OIC will remain disunited, with no say in international matters. Will the young Saudi leadership consider its responsibilities towards the Ummah and take necessary steps that help it come up to the expectations of all Muslims?

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.