“Pakistan did not participate in the KL summit as time and efforts were needed to address the concerns of major Muslim countries regarding possible division in the Ummah,” said FO spokesperson Aisha Farooqui in a statement.




Pakistan would continue to work for the unity and solidarity of the Ummah, which was indispensable for effectively addressing the challenges faced by the Muslim world, she said.

While confirming that the government had decided against attending the summit, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had also said on Tuesday the decision had been taken in order to assert neutrality as Riyadh and Abu Dhabi had expressed concerns the move could cause a division among the Muslim countries and lead to the setting up of an entity parallel to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

President Erdogan, according to Turkish media, said Riyadh coerced Islamabad into skipping the summit after Prime Minister Imran Khan had confirmed his participation in the event.

Saudi Arabia threatened to expel Pakistani expatriates living in the kingdom and withdraw the amount deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan last year for shoring up foreign exchange reserves, the Turkish president said.

“Unfortunately, we see that Saudi Arabia pressures Pakistan. Now, there are promises that the country has given to Pakistan regarding the central bank. However, more than that, there are four million Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia. They (threaten by saying that they) would send (Pakistanis) back and re-employ Bangladeshi people instead,” Mr Erdogan said.

According to the Turkish leader, Pakistan had to fall in line due to its economic difficulties.

Despite this embarrassing disclosure by President Erdogan about Prime Minister Khan’s absence from the KL summit, Malaysia and Turkey have kept Pakistan involved in the project for setting up a television channel for countering Islamophobia.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah tweeted that Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan would together establish the TV channel. He was clarifying a confusion created by a tweet by the official Twitter handle of the summit, which said: “We are also looking into establishing a TV channel which would be a collaborative effort between Turkey, Qatar and Malaysia.”

Malaysian High Commission in Islamabad tweeted the same message.

Pakistan was part of the project originally agreed at a meeting between Prime Minister Khan, his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad and President Erdogan in New York in September. However, the tweets gave the impression that Qatar had replaced Pakistan in the project after Mr Khan skipped the summit.

However, Foreign Minister Abdullah immediately stepped in, and tweeted: “Correction: its Turkey, Pakistan + Malaysia.”

After the clarification from the foreign minister, the Malaysian High Commission too said: “Our apology for the error — the TV channel concerned will involve the participation of Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia.”

Pakistan, before opting out of the summit, had committed to three projects involving the countries participating in the Kuala Lumpur process. These projects were about media collaboration, defence and security cooperation and the youth.