Imran Khan says no to differences with Kingdom, recognition to Israel

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ISLAMABAD: Amid media reports of differences between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Imran Khan has played down these reports as Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Riyadh, saying the two countries had no differences.

The army chief ’s visit is being viewed in the context of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s criticism of the Saudi Arabia-dominated Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for not convening the meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers on Kashmir. However, ISPR Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar earlier said the visit had been planned long before the controversy erupted.

PM Imran Khan

Gen Bajwa’s trip, analysts say, would also try to overcome the minor hiccup in ties caused by the foreign minister’s statement.“The rumours that our relations with Saudi Arabia have soured are totally false,” the premier said in an interview with Dunya News on Tuesday night.“Our relations are very good. We are constantly in touch.”

Army Chief Gen Bajwa travelled to Saudi Arabia on Monday for a one-day visit that was “primarily military-affairs oriented”, the army said.

“On the Kashmir issue, there is a view that OIC should have stepped forward,” Prime Minister Imran said.“Saudi has its own foreign policy. We shouldn’t think that because we want something Saudi will do just that,” he added.

Imran Khan said that Pakistan could not recognise Israel as a state unless it gave freedom to Palestine. On foreign policy, the prime minister said: “The Quaid-i-Azam had said in 1948 that Pakistan could not recognise Israel unless it gave freedom to Palestinians.

“If we recognise Israel and ignore tyranny faced by the Palestinians, we will have to give up (the cause of) Kashmir as well, and this we cannot do.” In the context of the UAE, which has recently established ties with Israel, the prime minister said every state had its own foreign policy.

He refuted an impression that Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations had been shaken over Kashmir issue. “Saudi Arabia is one of our key friends and our relations are still fraternal and unchanged,” he said.

The PM said Pakistan’s future was linked to China as China defended Pakistan in all difficult times. He said Chinese President Xi Jinping would visit Pakistan in the winter.