by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 49, No. 1, Rajab, 1441)
The Saudi regime has once again shown its true colors. That it does not care for suffering Muslims anywhere is all too evident in its approach to burning issues. Whether it is the people of Palestine or Kashmir, the Saudis are absent from the scene. In fact, they have tried to sabotage the efforts of others to raise the Ummah’s voice over these issues at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a body dominated by the Bani Saud.
They delivered their latest snub to Pakistan by attempting to sabotage the Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting on Kashmir as requested by Islamabad. Instead, they have suggested a parliamentary forum or a speakers’ conference. There are several problems with the Saudi proposal. What parliamentary groups are the Saudis talking about? Is there a parliament in the medieval kingdom? As for the speakers’ conference, it is clear the Saudis want to use it as a platform for Iran-bashing.
When US President Donald Trump announced his so-called ‘deal of the century’ on January 28, the Saudis kept mum. Ambassadors of two of their closest allies—Bahrain and UAE—even attended Trump’s announcement made in the company of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Palestinians—all political factions—denounced it in unequivocal terms, as did a number of other countries including the European Union (EU). Yet, when the OIC held an emergency meeting in Jeddah on February 1, the 57-member body rejected Trumps’ deal. It was Turkey that spearheaded the rejection effort. But here is the rub: the Saudis refused to issue visas to Iranian officials to attend the OIC meeting despite Iran being a long-standing member. It was clear the Iranians would have exposed Saudi duplicity on the Palestinian question. Rather hypocritically, Saudi king Salman told Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (PA) that the kingdom still believes in a ‘two-state solution’ with East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
What about Saudi policy on Kashmir? Last December, the Saudis had pressured Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan to not attend the Islamic Conference in Kuala Lumpur. This was a major embarrassment for Imran Khan since he was one of three Muslim leaders—the other two being Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad of Malaysia and President Recep Tayip Erdogan—that had proposed the idea in the first place. Besides, Turkey, Iran and Malaysia are the only Muslim countries that have unequivocally condemned India’s annexation of Kashmir by abrogating its special status and subjecting the 8 million Kashmiris to a cruel lockdown.
Pakistani frustration with the Saudis boiled over into the public domain when Imran Khan voiced concern over the OIC’s silence on Kashmir while speaking at a think-tank during his visit to Malaysia (February 4-5). He said: “The reason is that we have no voice and there is a total division amongst [us]. We can’t even come together as a whole on the OIC meeting on Kashmir.”
While all this is completely true, Pakistan needs to take some critical decisions. For far too long, it has deferred to Saudi demands that are at odds with the interests of other Muslims. Both Kashmir and Palestine are prime examples.
Yemen provides an even more extreme example where the Saudis have pursued a genocidal policy for five years now. At least 100,000 people have been killed and 22 million out of Yemen’s 24 million population are food deficient. The plight of children is even worse: more than one million children are suffering from cholera. These horrendous statistics simply point to the Saudis’ cruel nature.
Kashmir is of vital interest to Pakistan because its very survival depends on it. Besides, eight million Kashmiris are not a small number. They have suffered decades of brutal suppression by the Indian occupation army as well as horrendous humiliation including the rape of thousands of women. Don’t these crimes merit attention of the Muslim world, especially those that have ensconced themselves in the Arabian Peninsula taking on the title of Khadim al-Haramayn? Are there no responsibilities that fall on their shoulders?
True, there was a meeting of the OIC contact group on Kashmir on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session in New York last September. The OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission on gross human rights abuses in India-occupied Kashmir also issued a report. Unfortunately, there has been little follow-up on this.
Instead, Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman announced during his two-day visit to India (February 18-19) that his country’s investment in India would exceed $100 billion over the next two years. Do the mass murderers of Muslims deserve such vast sums for investment? Are the Saudis unaware of what the Hindu zealots will do with such vast sums? If they do not know, let us remind them that India has embarked on a policy of ethnic cleansing of Muslims. Part of this policy is to deny Muslims in India their citizenship rights. Long before this policy was officially adopted, Hindu terrorists linked with the ruling party had embarked on a genocidal policy against Muslims. The Internet provides ample proof of Hindu mobs lynching innocent Muslims.
Pakistan needs to rethink its Kashmir policy and clearly determine who its true friends are to distinguish them from those that are rank opportunists. A good starting point would be for Pakistani officials to stop calling the Saudis their best friends.