Islamabad: Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa who started his Saudi Arabia visit on August 17 to calm diplomatic strains has been declined a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Gen Bajwa had to settle for a meeting with the Deputy Defense Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Salman, also the younger brother of the Crown Prince, as well as Maj Gen Fayyad Al Ruwaili, the kingdom’s chief of general staff, people familiar with the matter in Riyadh and New Delhi.
Bajwa is learnt to have conveyed the Imran Khan government’s apology over foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s statement that criticized Saudi Arabia over the reluctance of the Organization of Islamic Countries to convene a meeting of OIC foreign ministers to discuss Kashmir.
But the regret conveyed to Deputy Defense Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Salman during their meeting didn’t get Islamabad any further in Riyadh. General Bajwa’s interactions in the kingdom were limited to Saudi’s defense establishment, just as Pakistan military had claimed after news of General Bajwa’s trip was leaked back home.
This version was, however, contradicted by Pakistan minister Sheikh Rasheed who told a news channel that the army chief was visiting Saudi Arabia to iron out outstanding minor differences
There has been a buzz in Islamabad that PM Imran Khan was not averse to dropping Qureshi, who crossed the red line with Saudi Arabia when he threatened to call a conference of Islamic countries outside the OIC if it did not call a conference of foreign ministers to discuss the situation in Kashmir.
Pakistan has long pressed the Saudi-led OIC to convene a high-level meeting to highlight alleged Indian violations in the part it controls but hasn’t got its way so far.
“If you (OIC) cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told local media last week. (Hindustan Times)