Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will embark on a two-day visit to Kuala Lumpur from Monday to placate the Malaysian leadership after he skipped a major summit of Muslim nations reportedly under pressure from Saudi Arabia.
The Pakistan Foreign Office on Sunday said “(PM) Khan is visiting Malaysia on February 3-4” on the invitation of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Khan will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Cabinet members and senior officials.
During the visit, the two heads of state would have tete-e-tete followed by delegation-level talks.
They will witness the signing of important agreements/MoUs and have joint press meets.
Prime Minister Khan will also address a think-tank event organised by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) of Malaysia.
“The prime minister’s visit is another sign of robust engagement between Pakistan and Malaysia and the shared commitment to further fortify the strategic partnership between the two countries,” said FO.
In line with a common vision, bilateral ties between the two countries have deepened in recent years in trade, investment, industry, defence, education and in various international forums, the FO said.
The FO said the prime minister will share with Mahathir his vision for Pakistan and his government’s positive role in bringing regional and international peace .
Khan’s visit is being called a “damage control” exercise by local media.
Khan had confirmed Pakistan’s participation in the December 19-21 summit hosted by the Malaysian prime minister but skipped the event at the 11th hour due to pressure exerted by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – key financial backers of the cash-strapped country.
The summit in Kuala Lumpur was seen by the Saudis as an attempt to create a new bloc in the Muslim world that could become an alternative to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) led by the Gulf Kingdom.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan even visited Islamabad in December last to convey the Saudi leadership’s gratitude to Pakistan for not attending the summit.
After pulling out from the event, Khan spoke to his Malaysian counterpart over the phone and offered him to visit after the summit.
It is believed that Khan will use the visit to explain to Mahathir the reason for Pakistan’s pull out from the summit.
This is Khan’s second visit to Malaysia since assuming office in August 2018.
The last visit was in November 2018.
Prime Minister Mahathir had visited Pakistan in March last year and was the chief guest at the Pakistan Day Parade.
The two prime ministers also met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Session in New York in September 2019.