Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly said that Pakistan decided to stay away from the Kaula Lumpur summit because of Saudi Arabia's threats of economic sanctions. While speaking to an international media outlet, Erdogan further also said that this is not the first time that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had put pressure on a country for doing or not doing certain things. He further said that there are promises that the country has given to Pakistan regarding the central bank, however, more than that, there are approximately four million Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia.
Erdogan also said that Saudi Arabia threatened Pakistan to send Pakistanis back and re-employ Bangladeshis instead, according to reports. He also added that the kingdom has also threatened to withdraw money it had deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan. The Turkish President believes that Pakistan had to comply with Saudi wishes due to its economic difficulties.
However, the Foreign Office reportedly said that Pakistan did not participate in the Kuala Lumpur summit because 'time and efforts' were needed to address the concerns of major Muslim countries regarding possible division in the Ummah. They further added that Pakistan will continue to work for the 'unity and solidarity' of the Ummah, which is indispensable for effectively addressing the challenges faced by the Muslim world.
According to international media reports, Imran Khan had previously accepted the invitation extended from Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad to attend the summit in Kuala Lumpur. However, in October 2018, the leader of the cash-strapped country admitted that Pakistan was "facing really hard times" and acquired another $3 billion dollars in aid and another $3 billion dollars in loans. Within a few months, in February 2019, Saudi Arabia's de-facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman announced over $20 billion worth of investments in Pakistan. Reports even noted that Imran Khan had assured the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that Pakistan will never undermind the interests of the Kingdom. Riyadh is also known to be a key player in helping Pakistan improve its ties with the United States. It is believed that the Saudi crown prince had helped Khan secure the White House invitation in July this year.