Trump in Saudi Arab By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

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Trump in Saudi Arab
By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

The newly-elected US President, Donald Trump, during his election campaign had issued a number of controversial statements about Muslims. Not only this, just after taking charge, he issued a notification for putting ban on the entry of citizens of six Muslim majority countries. Much has been said on this discriminatory policy which raised the fear of horrific clash of civilizations among the US and Muslim world where the real victims will be thousands of innocent people, specially living in the Muslim countries who already are fed up of bloody terrorism.

But the most pleasant surprise given by the US President is to select Saudi Arab for his first foreign trip. In my humble views, this reflects not only that the US has realized the ground realities that curbing terrorism is not possible without the support of Muslim world but also the commitment by Muslim world in the form of Islamic Military Alliance, whose commander-in-chief is Pakistan’s former Army Chief General (R) Raheel Sharif. In reaction of 9/11, the attack on Afghanistan and latter Iraq War, had intensified the unrest and instability in the entire region. There are no two opinions that despite passing of 16 years the US-led War against Terror is unable to make our world free from terror and violence. Recent terrorist attack in Manchester, UK shows that terrorism is a global issue and needs collective attention by all countries, either belonging to developed world or third world.

The most annoying attempt is to provide justification to such horrific acts from religion. I have studied almost all religions and I am very much confident to claim that no religion demands their followers to take lives of innocent people. Islam is, no doubt, a religion of peace where saving a single human life is declared as saving whole mankind. Ahimsa (non-violence) is key factor of Hinduism. Christianity urged the followers to turn the other cheek instead of taking revenge. Ensuring peace is one of the three key values in Judaism. All religions urge their followers to respect other ones. The US president’s first foreign trip to Saudi Arab, Israel and Vatican also showcases his priorities for promoting interfaith harmony.

The historical initiative taken by Saudi Arab to organize the first-ever United States-Arab Islamic Summit, is a ray of hope for all peace loving people. The address of US President Donald Trump to the top-level leadership of 55 Muslim countries would indeed have positive impact on peace efforts and interfaith harmony across the globe. The US President, while showing interest to strengthen cooperation in pursuit of peace, has declared that the US and the west are not enemy of Islam and there is no battle between different faiths or different civilizations, but actually this is between Good and Evil. He truly stated that every time a terrorist murders an innocent person by falsely invoking the name of God, it is actually an insult to every person of faith.

While the promise by the US President that the US will never impose western way of life on others, could be considered as a diplomatic attempt to win the hearts and minds of Muslim World, I believe that Saudi Arab has secured a number of achievements successfully on various fronts. Firstly, the formation of Islamic Military Alliance by Saudi regime proved that Muslim world is united to defeat terrorism. Secondly, Muslim world is not terrorist but in fact victim of terrorism. The warm welcome and hospitality to Donald Trump and his family shows that Saudi Arab is not conservative but a tolerant society. The presence of Pakistani General (R) Raheel Sharif as Commander-in-chief of Islamic Military Alliance vowed the commitment to defeat terrorism from the entire Muslim world on the same pattern as the brave armed forces of Pakistan had succeed to curb from North Waziristan. Moreover, the visit also initiated the debate and dialogue between different segments which are essential for the progress and development. This is once again highlighted that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism, and the individual acts by some elements should not be linked with any faith. The participants agreed that religion must never be a reason for conflict, hatred and violence of any kind.

Historically, Saudi Arab and Pakistan are strategically important countries of Muslim World. During the era of Cold War, when the entire Arab World was having influence of Soviet Union, both brotherly Muslim countries were strategic allies of the US and West. Besides custodian of most holy places, the oil-based economy of Saudi Arab is the largest in the Arab world. In 1973, Arab World, in response to western support to Israel, initiated the oil embargo which resulted in worst oil crisis in western societies. However, as a result of 9/11 incident, the misunderstanding among Muslim world and west intensified.

Anyhow, the active participation of 55 Muslim states to interact with the US President has given a message of peace to the west that citizens of Muslim majority countries are seeking the drop scene of global terrorism and want to normalize relations with the US and west that were once before 9/11.  The people in Muslim World are of the view that it was not only military power but actually soft power that played pivotal role for the US to achieve the status of Super Power. I hope that the US will open more doors for Muslim World by focusing on various areas of cooperation, such as: enrollment in the universities, cultural and academic exchanges, fellowships and scholarships, and development aid.

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The writer is a member of National Assembly and patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council. Twitter: @RVankwani

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