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Is Pakistan dumping traditional allies Saudi-UAE for their support to India ?

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NEW DELHI: A new formation is emerging in the Islamic World and OIC as Pakistan in a selfish move have decided to get further closer to Turkey and widen ties with Malaysia at the cost of its old ties with Saudi Arabia and UAE — who had bankrolled Islamabad for decades.

This was reflected at the last week’s OIC meet at UN where Turkey once again threw its weight behind Pakistan’s rant against India — Islamophobia. However, UAE backed India and others gave tacit support to India at the meet.

Turkey under its President has been challenging Saudi Arabia’s decade old dominance in the Islamic world and with Riyadh developing multi-faceted with India Islamabad in a desperate step has moved closer to Ankara to pursue its anti-India agenda. Simultaneously UAE’s ties with India encompasses areas and sectors unimaginable few years back.

In late September 2019, the Turkish President, then Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan met at the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York. The three agreed at that meeting to establish an English-language TV channel to combat ‘Islamophobia’ in the West.

While Qatar has reportedly supported this trio vis a vis Saudis and UAE as part of its regional strategy in the Gulf, Doha has warmed up to Delhi and PM Narendra Modi spoke with its Emir this week on the occasion of EiD.

Last December, Malaysia had organised an Islamic Conference despite opposition from Saudi Arabia. Pakistan, however, had backed out at the last moment following pressure from Riyadh. Post Mahathir Malaysia has softened to an extent but Islamabad is keen to keep alliance intact. In the process Pakistan is ignoring assistance that UAE and Saudi Arabia has extended to it for decades from oil at concessionary rates to employment for Pak nationals to financial grants.

For decades Pakistan maintained strong ties with both Saudi-UAE and Turkey in a balancing act but India’s rising profile has upset its plans.

Tilak Devasher, member National Security Advisory Board of India and author of several books on Pakistan told ET, “Imran Khan can’t forget the humiliation he was subjected to by the Saudis on at least two occasions. First when the Saudi plane was summoned back to New York in mid-air and he had to return to Pakistan on a commercial plane. Second when he was warned by the Saudis not to go to Malaysia to attend a summit with Turkey. Imran is trying get his back by cosying up to Turkey and Malaysia in a bloc against Saudis and UAE. In so doing he is forgetting Saudi largesse and the fate of millions of Pakistanis working there.”

Referring to Turkeys gameplan, he said, “Apart from their other serious differences, Erdogan thinks that as the inheritor of the Ottoman empire it should be Turkey and not Saudi Arabia that should lead the Islamic world. So there is a lot of civilizational rivalry and historical baggage involved.”

The Turkish President has a special liking on Kashmir. Turkey held an international conference on the subject in November 019. Pakistani senator, Sherry Rehman, participated in this meet. During Erdogan’s visit to Pakistan early this year, the Turkish president mentioned Kashmir six times during his speech to a joint session of the Pakistani parliament.

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