Recently, Pakistan played a proud host to the 48th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers at a time when critical challenges face Muslim peoples in many parts of the world. Apart from the long festering issues of Kashmir and Palestine, the sputtering war in Iraq and Syria, internecine conflict in Libya and Lebanon, Islamophobia has emerged as a serious threat to the human rights and physical safety of the vulnerable Muslim population in India and Western countries.
Forty-six countries participated in the moot at the ministerial level, while other countries were represented by senior officials. Nearly 800 delegates attended the Islamabad meeting. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was the special guest at the conference. It was the first time in the OIC’s history that a Chinese foreign minister attended its foreign ministers’ meeting, indicating Beijing’s expanding role in the Muslim world.
The highlight of the two-day conference of OIC Foreign Ministers was its strong affirmation of support for the cause of Palestine and Kashmir freedom struggles. OIC Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha, while speaking at a media conference at the end of the meeting of the 57-member body, said: “Palestine remains high on the agenda of the OIC and was discussed thoroughly. All participating ministers reiterated their support for the Palestine cause”.
The question of Jammu and Kashmir was thoroughly discussed and the participating member-states in the conference reaffirmed and reiterated their unstinting support for the inalienable right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people.
The meeting agenda included deliberations on the situation in Palestine, Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) and Afghanistan. Also, issues pertaining to Africa and Muslims in Europe and developments in Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Syria were taken up at the meeting. Islamophobia, international terrorism and cooperation in economic, cultural, social, humanitarian, and scientific domains were the other subjects that came under discussion.
A wide-ranging Islamabad Declaration containing as many as 70 points was adopted at the end of the conference. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while speaking at the conference, said Palestine and Kashmir were two glaring examples of injustice, oppression, occupation, and human rights violations. On the Kashmir issue, the Islamabad conclave marked a step forward as Foreign Minister Qureshi later told the media that a ministerial committee of the OIC would work with other states to “go beyond resolutions” on Kashmir and “chart the way forward”. An action plan will also be formulated in this regard.
He said the OIC Contact Group on Occupied Kashmir had decided that its members would meet more frequently to coordinate their positions on the dispute and monitor human rights violations. “We have a clear plan of action (on Kashmir) for the members of the contact group, the secretary general, the secretariat, the special envoy, and the OIC independent permanent human rights commission,” he maintained.
In the context of increasing atrocities by the Indian occupation forces, it is of great significance that the Islamabad Declaration renewed its pledge of solidarity with the people of Kashmir and expressed complete support for their UN-sanctioned right to self-determination. It condemned the human rights violations in IIOJ&K and strongly rejected India’s illegal and unilateral actions related to Kashmir since August 5, 2019.
To quote the Islamabad Declaration, “We declare that the final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions is indispensable for durable peace in South Asia. We reiterate our call on India to: reverse its unilateral and illegal measures instituted since 5th August 2019; cease its oppression and human rights violations against the Kashmiris in IIOJ&K; halt and reverse attempts to alter the demographic structure and to redraw electoral constituencies in IIOJ&K; and take concrete and meaningful steps for full implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir.”
Among other things, the OIC Foreign Ministers also expressed concern over an Indian missile striking a building in Pakistani territory on March 9 and put their weight behind Pakistan’s demand for a joint probe to accurately establish facts.
The declaration acknowledged Pakistan’s pivotal role as an anchor of stability in South Asia, and commended its role and efforts for promotion of regional peace, based on the UN Charter principles, including sovereign equality of States, political independence, non-use or threat of use of force and pacific settlement of disputes. In this connection, the OIC resolution sent a strong message of caution to the fascist Modi regime which has adopted a blatantly belligerent stand against Pakistan in recent years.
A special highlight of the Islamabad conference was the presence of the Chinese Foreign Minister which indicated Beijing’s desire to expand its ties with the Islamic bloc and its willingness to invest millions of dollars in Muslim countries under its Belt and Road Initiative. His participation also came as a refutation of rumours of a slowdown in the pace of CPEC projects.