Pakistan PM Imran Khan in Doha today amid Saudi abandonment over Kashmir

Pakistan PM Imran Khan in Doha today amid Saudi abandonment over Kashmir
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan will discuss regional and international issues with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
3 min read
27 February, 2020
Pakistani PM Imran Khan is welcomed by Qatar's Energy Minister [Defence Ministry Of Qatar]
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit the Qatari capital of Doha on Thursday amid reports of a possible strain in Pakistan-Saudi relations.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani will receive Khan for a meeting to discuss bilateral relations, Qatar News Agency reported.

Sheikh Tamim and Prime Minister Khan will also discuss several regional and international issues, Arabi 21 reported.

Khan's visit comes amid Saudi Arabia's reported rejection of Pakistan's request to discuss the Kashmir issue during a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

There were unconfirmed reports in India media in December that Pakistan had achieved a "diplomatic victory" by forcing Saudi Arabia to hold a special session on Kashmir in the OIC. 

But Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported Thursday that Saudi Arabia had rejected Prime Minister Khan's calls for a discussion on Kashmir, according to Arabi21.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have traditionally been close allies, with Khan spurning December's Muslim summit in Malaysia after alleged strong arming by Riyadh.

The Muslim summit, spearheaded by Malaysia and Turkey, was seen to rival the OIC - a 57-member pan-Islamic body headquartered in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

The emir of Qatar - which has been subject to almost a two-year Riyadh-led blockade - was also in attendance.

Thursday's trip marks Khan's second visit to Qatar, after having visited earlier this year. Sheikh Tamim visited Pakistan in June last year, during which he pledged to invest $3 billion.

Khan's trip comes just weeks after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Pakistan's capital Islamabad on a two-day official visit.

During a press conference with Erdogan, Khan affirmed that his country stands with Turkey after tit-for-tat clashes with the Syrian regime.

Khan also thanked President Erdogan for his stance towards the Kashmiris, eight million of which suffer, in Khan's words, in an "open air prison".

Tensions between Pakistan and India recently spiralled when Delhi revoked the partial autonomy of Indian Kashmir in August. 

Pakistan has repeatedly likened Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Hitler and called for international intervention.

Read more: Are billion dollar investments in India prompting Saudi Arabia's silence over Kashmir?

"My appeal to the international community is that this is the time to take action, to ask where this huge subcontinent is heading, it is not a concern of Pakistan, it will concern the whole of world," Khan said Wednesday at the first anniversary of its standoff with New Delhi.

The two countries pulled back from the brink of war in February last year after Pakistan returned an Indian pilot it had downed and captured in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since independence in 1947, and has been the spark of two wars and numerous flare-ups between the two nuclear-armed foes.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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