The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has presented a united front to the world and India with a resolution in favour of the people of the Kashmir issue. The declaration is highly significant because it not only supports Pakistan’s position on the occupied valley but also shows to the world that the Islamic world is united for common causes despite internal rifts.
The OIC resolution, which comes after many months of the Modi government’s aggressive efforts to change occupied Kashmir’s legal and political status by revoking the articles of the Indian constitution, strengthens Pakistan’s position on the issue. It also negates the opposition’s claim that Pakistan has been isolated even in the Muslim world. There is no doubt that Islamic countries face serious rifts over a variety of issues. The differences have been sharpened after the recognition of Israel by several Arab countries. It is a great achievement of the Islamic bloc that it has left behind its internal issues to present a united front to India, despite many powerful Muslim countries having close economic ties with it.
The unanimous resolution, passed by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Niger, has criticised New Delhi’s decision to strip occupied Kashmir of its special status last August. The OIC rejects the illegal and unilateral actions by India on August 5, 2019, to change the internationally recognised disputed status of the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and demands that India rescind its illegal steps. The resolution passed during a session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the OIC held in Nigerien capital Niamey also condemned India for use of live fire and pellet guns against civilians.
The declaration came as a surprise to many Pakistanis because there were conflicting reports whether the Kashmir issue was on the agenda of the OIC meeting. It is a huge diplomatic victory for Pakistan that the foreign ministers of the OIC member states unanimously reaffirmed support for the Kashmir cause. They categorically rejected illegal and unilateral actions taken by India on August 5 last year to change the internationally recognised disputed status of the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and demanded India rescind its illegal steps. It asked India to cancel the issuance of domicile certificates to non-Kashmiris as well as other unilateral and illegal actions, including the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Order, 2020; Jammu & Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate Rules, 2020; Jammu and Kashmir Language, Bill 2020, and amendments to the landownership laws. Also rejecting policies being pursued by the RSS-BJP regime, the 57-member OIC asked India to refrain from taking any steps to alter the demographic structure of the disputed territory.
The OIC foreign ministers condemned in the strongest possible terms human rights violations perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces in held Kashmir and other instances of terrorism that have been the source of unspeakable suffering for the innocent Kashmiri people. The resolution condemned state-sponsored terrorism and crimes against humanity by the Indian occupation forces against the Kashmiri people. It denounced extrajudicial killings during fake “encounters” and “search-and-cordon” operations and demolition of houses and private properties as a form of collective punishment.
The unanimous resolution condemned the renewed use of pellet guns by the Indian occupation forces against innocent civilians, the harassment of Kashmiri women by the Indian troops and deplored that India had callously exploited the current Covid-19 crisis to intensify its military crackdown and further advance its unlawful occupation. India was asked to adhere to its international human rights obligations and allow the OIC Special Representative on Jammu and Kashmir and the OIC Fact-finding Mission to visit occupied Kashmir and implement recommendations of the two reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Jammu and Kashmir. The OIC also asked the international community to review its engagements with India as it was violating and disregarding international laws, international humanitarian laws, and international resolutions. It emphasised that the question of Kashmir was of utmost importance for the Ummah and recognised that Jammu and Kashmir is the core dispute between Pakistan and India, and its resolution is indispensable for realisation of the dream of peace in South Asia. It noted that the people of Jammu and Kashmir are the principal party to the dispute, and stressed that they should be included in any peace process for the resolution of the dispute. It affirmed that any political or electoral process held under foreign occupation could not be a substitute to the exercise of the right to self-determination.
In another resolution sponsored by Pakistan, the OIC expressed concern over growing incidents of Islamophobia in the world. It noted that Islamophobia, as a contemporary form of racism and religious discrimination, is on the rise. It expressed deep concern at the recent incidents of desecration of the Holy Quran and reprinting of blasphemous caricatures which hurt sentiments of more than 1.8 billion Muslims around the world. The OIC decided to designate March 15 as the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia” each year. It authorised the OIC Permanent Missions in New York to jointly table a resolution in the UN General Assembly, calling for establishment of the day. The resolution urged the OIC member states to organise and support various high-visibility events aimed at effectively increasing awareness at all levels of curbing Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.
Undoubtedly, internal rifts and economic interests have belittled the Islamic bloc. The OIC resolution is symbolic but still critically important for Pakistan. It will not change the ground realities and force India to stop atrocities on innocent Kashmiris but it would improve the image of the bloc. It can become a respectable and influential group by taking a principled stance on issues facing Muslims of the world, without caring for the economic benefits of its member states.