ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to visit Malaysia later this month in what appears to be the part of damage control effort after Pakistan’s decision to stay away from the Kuala Lumpur summit last month, The Express Tribune learnt on Tuesday.
Official sources confirmed that the premier is scheduled to travel to Kaula Lumpur by the end of January.
The visit was due since last month Islamabad pulled out of the Kaula Lumpur conference at the eleventh hour after Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries voiced their reservations over the gathering of leaders from host Malaysia, Turkey, Iran and Qatar.
The summit was meant to discuss problems facing the Muslim countries and suggest way forward. Observers saw it as an attempt by Malaysia and other like-minded countries to create a new Islamic bloc, excluding Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations.
However, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had dismissed such reports.
Pakistan, which initially accepted the invitation, had to withdraw from the summit on the grounds to maintain neutrality in the “Muslim Ummah”.
Subsequently, PM Imran spoke to his Malaysian counterpart over the phone to take him into confidence and offered him to visit after the summit.
It is believed that the prime minister will use the visit to explain Mahathir as to why Pakistan pulled out of the summit. Islamabad is also making efforts to reach out to Turkey.
Official circles are confident that the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayab Erdogan next month would help remove any mistrust between the two countries.
Officials further explained that Pakistan’s priority is to act as bridge among all the Muslim countries. They maintained that Pakistan tried hard even before the Kaula Lumpur summit to bring all Islamic countries on one platform.
However, those efforts could not make any headway because of time limitation.
The officials added that Pakistan would continue to strive for unity in the Muslim world to face common challenges and the upcoming visit of PM Imran to Malaysia is part of such efforts.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Abu Dhabi Crow Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Islamabad last month to discuss the situation which had arisen out of the Kaula Lumpur conference.