April 2016 News

Saudi Snub On Kashmir - Delhi Sees 'shift' But Riyadh Backs Pak

13 April 2016
The Telegraph (Kolkata)

New Delhi: Saudi Arabia today joined Pakistan in supporting the Kashmiri movement for 'self-determination' days after the Narendra Modi government touted the Prime Minister's visit to Riyadh as successful in wedging the Gulf power away form its pro-Islamabad policy. Today's support at a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's Kashmir contact group underscored the challenges Indian diplomacy continues to face in building a global alliance against all forms of militancy. The OIC contact group consists of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, Niger and Azerbaijan. The group met on the margins of the Islamic conference's 13th summit in Turkey this week. 'The contact group had been constantly conveying the OIC's concerns to the international community regarding the flagrant human rights violations and abuse of the basic rights of the Kashmiris,' the Pakistan foreign ministry quoted Saudi Arabian secretary general of the OIC contact group, Abdullah Al-Alim, as saying. 'He regretted some attempts to equate the Kashmiri struggle with terrorism, and emphasised that Kashmiris were solely striving to achieve their inalienable right in accordance with relevant UN resolutions.' Pakistan was represented by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz. Saudi Arabia's articulation of its position on Kashmir comes less than a fortnight after Riyadh agreed to what some Indian officials read as a subtle shift on the thorny dispute over Kashmir. 'The two leaders expressed strong condemnation of the phenomenon of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, irrespective of who the perpetrators were and of their motivations,' said a joint statement issued by Modi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud during the Indian leader's visit to Riyadh on April 3. No one in the Indian strategic establishment expected Saudi Arabia to dump Kashmir as a concern. But Modi's visit to Saudi Arabia had coincided with a coolness in Riyadh's relationship with Islamabad that New Delhi wanted to capitalise on. The language of the joint statement had suggested a willingness on Riyadh's part to distinguish between human rights concerns and a violent terrorist-led insurgency sponsored by Pakistan. Today's statement, Indian officials said, served a reality check.