By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN
PAKISTAN Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan (picture) admits to bowing down to pressure for missing the Kuala Lumpur (KL) Summit 2019 held in mid-December last year.
Khan cancelled his attendance from the high-profile conference at the last minute over the perception that the KL Summit was meant to replace the Riyadh-based Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).
“Unfortunately, our friends who are very close to Pakistan felt that the conference was going to divide the ummah. It was clearly a misconception because that was not the purpose of the conference as evident in what happened afterwards,” he said at a joint news conference with PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya yesterday. Khan was in Malaysia for a two-day official visit.
The summit had irked Saudi Arabia who viewed the gathering as an attempt to create a separate bloc outside the OIC. Dr Mahathir consistently denied the claim and insisted that all 57 members of the OIC were invited to the conference albeit at different levels.
It was attended by heads of states from Iran, Turkey and Qatar and was organised to find solutions to the problems suffered by the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims.
The conference came on the back of diplomatic overtures made by Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September last year where leaders of the three countries sought to create a new television channel to combat Islamophobia in the West.
Khan supported the idea, saying it was important for Muslim countries to educate the West on Islam.
“All these misunderstandings, whether they are deliberate or by ignorance, it is important that we educate them about the real message of our Prophet Muhammad,” he said, adding that he looked forward to attend the next meeting, which has been renamed Perdana Dialogue.
“Of course, I would (attend the next one) because now it is evident that the KL Summit was not to divide the ummah. The results of the KL Summit were far from that and if anything, it was to unite the ummah. So, of course, I would love to come,” he said.
The five-day summit concluded with Malaysia, Iran, Qatar and Turkey forging new cooperation in areas of defence and food security, among others.
This was done through the exchange of 18 memoranda, which include the construction of Malaysia’s first arms factory and a dairy farm that would double the country’s annual milk production by 50 million litres. Iran had also proposed the use of a single cryptocurrency to be used as a common denomination for Muslim countries.
Earlier, both Khan and Dr Mahathir witnessed the signing of a treaty on extradition. Dr Mahathir said the agreement will reinforce the positive momentum in the bilateral relationship by enhancing security and transnational crime cooperation between both countries.
“PM Khan and I also discussed other areas of bilateral cooperation including in defence and law enforcement, tourism and education. Malaysia and Pakistan are committed to cultivating stronger ties in these areas as well.
“We also exchanged views on the current situation surrounding Muslim ummah globally, including the situation in Palestine and in Rakhine state in Myanmar involving Rohingya Muslims,” Dr Mahathir said.