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The New Arab Staff

Saudi Arabia abruptly ends oil programme for Pakistan over OIC criticism

Pakistani FM Mehmood Qureshi said the OIC must 'show leadership' [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 August, 2020

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Pakistan was forced to repay $1 billion of a $6 billion package agreed with Riyadh in 2018.
Saudi Arabia has abruptly ended a loan and oil supply deal to Pakistan over the country's criticism of the Saudi-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) reponse to the Kashmir crisis.

Relations between Riyadh and Islamabad became strained over the latter's insistence that the OIC convene a meeting for foreign ministers to address India's annexation of areas of the disputed territory under its control. Pakistan has pushed since last August for action on the matter, with limited success.

Relations soured further when Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi last week warned that Pakistan may seek action outside of the Riyadh-led body.

"I am once again respectfully telling OIC that a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is our expectation. 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 was quoted by Dawn as saying.

Qureshi also insisted that the body "show leadership on the issue". 

"We have our own sensitivities. You have to realise this. Gulf countries should understand this," Qureshi said.

An incensed Riyadh last week forced Islamabad to repay $1 billion given as part of a $6.2 billion package announced in late 2018. The package, which was announced during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to Pakistan, consisted of $3 billion in loans and a $3.2 billion oil credit facility.

Read more:  Are billion dollar investments in India prompting Saudi Arabia's silence over Kashmir?

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have traditionally been close allies, however Riyadh has in recent times flexed its influnce over the south Asian state. In December, Prime Minister Imran Khan spurned a Muslim summit in Malaysia after alleged strong arming by Riyadh.

The Muslim summit, spearheaded by Malaysia and Turkey, was seen to rival the OIC - a 57-member pan-Islamic body headquartered in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

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