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Pakistan backs Saudi Arabia in diplomatic tussle with Canada

ISLAMABAD: Making no secret of support to its ‘decades-long’ partner, Pakistan has said that it backs Saudi Arabia in its row with Canada, and that it stands by the Saudi Kingdom in protecting its sovereignty.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Faisal has said that Pakistan was following with immense concern the “crisis” in relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada, and also that Pakistan, “places on record its solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

“We fully agree with the statement of the OIC secretary-general that Saudi Arabia enjoys immense respect at the regional and international level as it does among the people of Pakistan.”

Dr. Faisal said that Pakistan always supported the sovereignty of states and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, adding that both these aspects are enshrined in the UN Charter and are among the basic tenets of international law as well as the foundation of peaceful and friendly inter-state relations.

“Pakistan stands by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in protecting its sovereignty as a matter of principle and based on the historic and brotherly relations between our two countries,” Dr. Faisal added.

What’s going on between Saudi Arabia and Canada

Saudia Arabia and Canada have been embroiled in a diplomatic row ever since Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland posted a demand for the Saudi government to release women-rights activist Samar Badawi on social media.

Saudi Arabia, angered by Canada’s demand last week that jailed activists in the kingdom be freed immediately, expelled the Canadian ambassador, blocked imports of Canadian grain and ended state-backed educational and medical programs in Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared to extend an olive branch on Wednesday, saying he would keep pressing Saudi Arabia on civil liberties but also saying the Gulf Arab state had made some progress on human rights.

The Saudi Ambassador to Canada said in an interview with al Arabiya television on Thursday that Trudeau’s comments were positive, but more needed to be done.

The dispute has threatened to undermine Riyadh’s foreign investment drive, a campaign already unsettled by a series of assertive political and diplomatic initiatives by the top oil exporter.

The Financial Times reported that the Saudi central bank and state pension funds had told their overseas asset managers to sell their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings.

Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir two days ago ruled out any mediation efforts and said the kingdom was considering taking more measures against Canada for interfering in Saudi Arabia’s domestic affairs.

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