Saudi Arabia halts oil supply to Pakistan as rift widens over Kashmir

Saudi Arabia has suspended the supply of oil to Pakistan as the latter complains about Riyadh’s foot-dragging on a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) to address India’s contentious measures in Muslim-majority Kashmir region.

In 2018, Pakistan borrowed a $6.2 billion loan from Saudi Arabia that included a provision, under which Riyadh granted Islamabad $3.2 billion worth of oil a year on deferred payments.

On Saturday, Pakistani media reported that the provision expired two months ago and that Saudi Arabia did not renew it.

Instead, the reports said, Islamabad prematurely returned a $1 billion Saudi loan, four months ahead of the repayment period.

Saturday’s reports came a few days after Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi threatened that if the OIC, headed by Saudi Arabia, did not convene a foreign ministers’ meeting on Kashmir, Prime Minister Imran Khan would hold it on his own with his allies among the Islamic countries.

“For one year we have been requesting the OIC to call a council of foreign ministers meeting on Palestine and Kashmir issues where Muslims are facing atrocities while India demolished the 300-year-old Babri mosque and are building a Ram Temple but the OIC remains silent. But why?” Qureshi told local television station ARY News late Wednesday.

The remarks came on the same day Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid a foundation stone for the construction of a Hindu temple at the site of the 16th-century Babri Mosque in the city of Ayodhya.

It was the latest anti-Muslim measure taken by Modi’s right-wing government. Last August, it revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution, effectively ending Kashmir’s 70-year semi-autonomous status and bifurcating it into two “union territories” under the central government’s direct control.

The OIC, which is based in the Saudi city of Jeddah, is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations, with the membership of 57 states.

In December 2019, the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur hosted a summit, where leaders from Islamic countries discussed topics confronting the Muslims globally, including the Kashmir issue.

Saudi Arabia shunned the meeting and the regime’s media projected it as a challenge to the OIC. Pakistan also skipped the event upon a request from Riyadh.

Qureshi said Wednesday Pakistan did not attend the Kuala Lumpur summit on Saudi request and now Pakistani Muslims are demanding Riyadh to “play a leading role on the Kashmir issue.”

“Today Pakistanis, who are always ready to sacrifice their lives for Mecca and Madina, need Saudi to play a leading role on the Kashmir issue. If they will not play their role, then i will ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to go ahead with or without Saudi Arabia,” he added. “We have our own sensitivities. You have to realize this. Persian Gulf countries should understand this.”

Later, Pakistan’s Foreign Office stressed that Qureshi’s statement was a reflection of people’s aspirations and expectations from the OIC to raise the Kashmir issue internationally.

“In this regard, our efforts will continue and we hope there will be further forward movement,” outgoing Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said, noting that Pakistan was a founding member of the OIC and had longstanding fraternal relations with the organization’s member states.


Source: Press TV

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