New Muslim alliance: Zakir Naik brings Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey & Qatar closer

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The conflict surrounding Naik casts light on the currently burgeoning relations between three significant Muslim countries – Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia. This emergent alliance is a reflection of a shift in power in the Islamic world away from its traditional Arab center.

Recently, Indian news reported that Pakistan is using its ties in Turkey, Qatar to provide funds to Zakir Naik.

An Indian analyst in India’s ZEE news publication said, “Zakir Naik was given hospitality by Malaysia at Pakistan’s behest. Now, Pakistan is engaged to  arrange huge funds for Zakir Naik from Gulf countries like Qatar and Turkey.”

Indian media believes that Pakistan has been using its relations with Turkey and Qatar countries to organise funds for Naik and to take an anti-India stand. It is to be noted that Pakistan maintains good relations with both Qatar and Turkey.

In November 2016, India accused Dr Zakir Naik of indulging in unlawful activities and promoting religious hatred. The Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded by imposing a five-year ban on the IRF under the country’s anti-terror laws. Since then Dr Naik has settled down in Malaysia.

Dr Zakir Naik runs Peace TV network and International Islamic Research (IRF) which has been banned by India and its ally, Bangladesh.

He has continued to spread the message of peaceful Islam through YouTube channels and the web.

He has millions of followers in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other Muslim countries.

Dr Naik’s supporters say he has done nothing wrong and that he had been banned in India because he was preaching Islam.

Last year, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the UNGA where he had stated that “Despite the resolutions adopted by the UNSC, Kashmir is still besieged and eight million people are stuck in Kashmir. They cannot get out.”

Whereas Prime Minister Imran Khan talked about Islamophobia at his first UNGA address. Heads of Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia also planned to establish a strategy to fight Islamophobia for which a conference was also held in Kuala Lumpur.

However, subsequent Saudi pressure on Pakistan prevented its attendance at Kuala Lumpur Summit.

It must be noted that Malaysia has turned down multiple requests from India for the extradition of Dr Naik.

Malaysia adopted a new and vociferously critical tone on the Kashmir issue under Mahathir. At one occasion, he said that “India had ‘invaded and occupied’ Kashmir and was taking action to deprive some Muslims of their citizenship.”

The conflict surrounding Naik casts light on the currently burgeoning relations between three significant Muslim countries – Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia. This emergent alliance is a reflection of a shift in power in the Islamic world away from its traditional Arab center.

Ankara, Islamabad and Kuala Lumpur and Doha today constitute an emergent power nexus, built around a common orientation toward a conservative, Sunni political Islam. This new Muslim alliance is united as much by common enmities as by common affections. Its enemy is mainly India.

The new Muslim alliance between Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and Qatar makes both strategic and ideological sense from the point of view of its members.

It reflects the repositioning currently underway across Asia, in the wake of the receding post-Cold War US hegemony. These countries are united by a similar core outlook and have some common emergent adversaries.

However, Pakistan’s dependency on Saudi Arabian oil is a major hurdle for South Asian country to play freely in the new Muslim alliance.

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