Amid tensions with Saudi Arabia, Pak moves closer to China

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BY HAMZA AMEER
Islamabad, Aug 20 (IANS)
It was the statement of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi against the Saudi-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), pertaining to the Kashmir dispute, which attracted irked response from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
And while Pakistan’s military establishment is focused on mending the dented ties between the two Islamic nations, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent statement, coupled with the visit of Qureshi to China, is signaling at Islamabad extending allegiance and inclination towards Beijing.
Qureshi, accompanied by senior officials, will be in Hainan, China, from August 20-21 to take part in the second round of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue.
As per the Pakistan Foreign Office, “The Chinese side will be led by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.”
“During the dialogue, both sides will, inter alia, discuss cooperation on Covid-19, bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest. The visit will play an important role in further strengthening the Pakistan-China All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership and deepen strategic communication and coordination with China on a range of issues,” said a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release.
Qureshi’s visit comes a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Pakistan’s future is tied with China, indicating visible signs of Islamabad’s intended inclination towards its trusted friend and partner China.
“It should be made clear that our future is tied with China, which has stood by Pakistan through thick and thin. Both countries recognise each other’s importance and are further strengthening mutual ties,” Khan stated in a television interview.
“Unfortunately, western countries are using India against China,” he added.
Khan also rejected what he called rumors about “rifts” with Saudi Arabia, saying “they have their own foreign policy”.
It is pertinent to mention here that while Pakistan has not been happy with the performance of OIC, specifically on the Kashmir issue, Beijing has taken its side on raising the issue of Kashmir at global platforms like the United Nations.
With Pakistan cozying up with China, experts believe that Islamabad may be sliding away from the financial dependency and alliance with Saudi Arabia.

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