The Donald Trump-led Arab Islamic American summit, held in Riyadh this weekend, was supposed to be Pakistan’s moment to cash its first check on the diplomatic investment it has made in the Saudi-led Islamic military coalition – which former Army Chief Raheel Sharif militarily heads. After all, the long standing U.S.-Saudi relationship has helped Islamabad ally itself with both, and at a time when the duo was spearheading an “Islamic” summit it was natural for Pakistan to expect a share of the spotlight.
With this in mind, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spent the entire duration of his flight to Riyadh rehearsing his address to the summit, which included leaders of 55 Muslim-majority states. It was time to drive home Islamabad’s perspective on countering Islamist terrorism – the theme of the event – considering Pakistan’s unique role as both victim and counterterrorism proponent. Raheel Sharif heads the counterterror militia, and the country is fourth on the Global Terrorism Index in terms of the most affected states.
Yet Nawaz Sharif wasn’t invited to address the summit. Neither was Raheel Sharif.
It was bad enough that Pakistan didn’t get a say in what was predictably reduced to a Gulf gathering, rather than an “Islamic” summit. Trump’s speech itself further added salt to the wounds. Read more.