Some 35 heads of state and government from Muslim-majority countries were in Riyadh for the Arab Islamic American Summit, mainly from states friendly to Saudi Arabia. Those who addressed the summit included American President Donald Trump and King Salman of Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Nawaz Sharif also participated in the summit but was not among the speakers.
Speaking at the summit the American President urged Islamic leaders to take a stand against violence done in the name of religion, describing the struggle against extremism as a ‘battle between good and evil’.
In a highly anticipated speech in Saudi Arabia, the American President lashed out at Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran, accusing Tehran of fuelling ‘the fires of sectarian conflict and terror’ and calling for its international isolation. Interestingly Trump also mentioned India in his address saying that ‘The nations of Europe have also endured unspeakable horror. So too have the nations of Africa and even South America. India, Russia, China and Australia have been victims,’ US President Donald Trump said in his keynote address, skipping the name of Pakistan – which lost over 70,000 civilians and more than 6,000 of its valiant soldiers to terrorism.
King Salman while speaking on the occasion expressed similar views with regards to Iran saying that Iran’s ruling powers represent the ‘tip of the spear’ of global terrorism. ‘Our responsibility before God and our people and the whole world is to stand united to fight the forces of evil and extremism wherever they are … The Iranian regime represents the tip of the spear of global terrorism.’
Trumps mention of India in the fight against terror and ignoring Pakistan aside the more concerning matter is the clear position taken with regards to Iran. The presence of Raheel Sharif as the head of the Islamic Military Alliance and the participation of Prime Minister in a summit where Iran was called out for its ‘alleged’ role in terror activities can potentially harm our ties with our neighbouring countries. Pakistan should in fact push for brining all Islamic countries together and not become part of any alliance that results in alienating a neighbouring Muslim country.
Pakistan has to tread carefully with regards to the regional chess board.