Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal arrived in Islamabad today on a short visit to Pakistan. He was received by President Pervez Musharraf, with whom he held extensive talks on the current situation in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States and the ongoing U.S.-led coalition strikes on Afghanistan. Prince Saud expressed the Kingdom's solidarity with the people and leadership of Pakistan in facing the current challenges.
At a press conference yesterday, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Ali Awadh Asseri issued a statement on the Kingdom's position. The catastrophic events in Afghanistan, he said, could have been avoided if the Taleban had heeded Saudi advice; but the Taleban refused to listen to the voice of reason and brought destruction upon the people of Afghanistan, for whose suffering they alone are responsible. He reaffirmed that the Saudi government will not desert the people of Afghanistan, pleading that no harm be inflicted upon them. He went on to report on donations from Saudi Arabia to the Afghan people to assist them over the coming winter; these will be distributed to refugees in coordination with the government of Pakistan.
Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Asseri continued, is run strictly in accordance with the principles of Islamic shariah, and will not be deterred from adherence to these principles. Moreover, Saudi Arabia condemns terrorism in all its forms, and has itself been a victim of terrorist activities resulting in the death of many of its nationals, including Saudi diplomats overseas. Osama bin Ladin, he went on to say, preached extremist views, and because his heretical thinking contradicted the spirit of Islam, he was no longer welcome in Saudi Arabia. His behavior, which has harmed the name of Islam, is not in agreement with its universal principles.
Ambassador Asseri then observed that because Saudi Arabia is in the forefront of the struggle for the liberation of Palestine and Al-Quds [Jerusalem], and in seeking a just and peaceful solution for this crisis within the framework of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, it has suffered slanderous attacks from western media. He declared: "Our trust in God, however, remains firm and unwavering. Moreover, our economic growth is steady. …… We cannot change our policy that is based on universally accepted principles and enduring values. We care for the welfare of the people and their needs. The western world including the United States of America can gain greater respect from the Muslim world by exerting pressure to bring the cruelty against the innocent people of Palestine to an immediate end." He concluded by urging the western world to invest time in understanding Islam, in order to facilitate the elimination of so many prejudices.