Saudi Arabia has ended a loan and oil supply to Pakistan due to the South Asian nation’s criticism that the Saudi-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is not doing enough to pressure India on the Kashmir issue, marking a new milestone in the deteriorating relations between the two allies.
Pakistan was last week forced to repay a Saudi loan of $1 billion that the kingdom called in after Pakistan insisted it be allowed to lead the OIC’s support for Kashmir, a region largely under Indian occupation and which was annexed by India last year, said a report.
The loan was part of a $6.2 billion package announced by Saudi Arabia in November 2018, which included a total of $3 billion in loans and an oil credit facility amounting to $3.2 billion. Those deals were then signed when Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman made a visit to Pakistan in February last year.
Relations between the two countries then started to break down, however, when Riyadh turned down Islamabad’s request to convene a special meeting of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers. Pakistan continued to demand the OIC use its role to help Kashmir, with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stating in an interview with the Pakistani news channel ARY last week that “I am once again respectfully telling OIC that a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is our expectation.”
He went further by warning that Pakistan would be forced to take it into its own hands, saying that “If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris.”
Qureshi insisted that the OIC, dominated largely by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states, must “show leadership on the issue.” He added that “We have our own sensitivities. You have to realise this. Gulf countries should understand this.”