PETALING JAYA: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has praised his Malaysian counterpart Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for speaking out against India despite the risks to trade relations with New Delhi.
He said Malaysia sacrificed a lot in standing up for Muslims in India, as India, which was Malaysia's biggest buyer of palm oil last year, threatened to cut palm oil purchases.
"The difference between office holders and leaders is that the latter always has a belief system, an ideology and always takes a stand.
"That's why we love and respect Dr Mahathir so much," said Imran during a question-and-answer session following his keynote address at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia here on Tuesday (Feb 4).
The Indian import controls came after Dr Mahathir commented last year on India's domestic policies including the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomous status and the country's new citizenship law.
Imran described Dr Mahathir as a role model and "a statesman who has changed the destiny of so many people", saying he had witnessed Malaysia's development under the 94-year-old premier's stewardship.
"We have seen how Malaysia transformed in my lifetime and how it has developed.
"I find there's harmony between religions and ethnic groups, which I think is the hallmark of a civilised society," he said.
He cited the example of Islam's Golden Age when people of different religions lived together and enjoyed acceptance, as well as tolerance.
"In Malaysia, we see this tolerance in the way the people live, which I think is something to admire," he added.
At the event, Imran was also vocal about the Indian treatment of Kashmiris. He described its as a situation of eight million people living in "open air prisons" for six months.
"India has been taken over by an extremist ideology.People in Kashmir have been more or less been put under siege," he said.
Imran also said Muslim leaders should speak out on Kashmir, as well as the oppression of the Rohingya in Myanmar and other conflicts involving Muslims in other parts of the world.
keywords: Imran Khan, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, India, palm oil, citizenship law, Kashmir
Did you find this article insightful?