FeaturedNationalVOLUME 17 ISSUE # 19

Pakistan’s diplomatic prominence

It is a great achievement of Pakistan that it once again represented the aspersions of over 1.5 billion people of the Muslim world in the 48th session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers. The meeting discussed all internal and external challenges facing Muslim countries. However, as Prime Minister Imran Khan pointed out, the Islamic world would have to forge their own bloc and make an action plan to solve issues of their people and Muslims living in non-Muslim countries.

Forty-six countries and about 800 delegates participated in the OIC session in Islamabad. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was the special guest. His historic participation represents his country’s desire to build partnership with Muslim countries for solidarity, development, security and civilisation in the turbulent and transforming world. He proposed enhanced communication between China and the Muslim world and emphasised adherence to the principles of mutual respect and mutual trust, accommodating each other’s core concerns, collaboration for the realisation of common development, learning from each other and safeguarding the diversity of civilisations in the world. He also announced his country’s unwavering support to Pakistan on Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K). Wang said, “China shares the same hope as the OIC on Kashmir,” which angered India.

Besides, the Chinese minister’s participation and remarks, it was Prime Minister Imran Khan, who stole the show. In his address, he urged unity among Muslim countries for protecting their interests in a divided world and reminded the OIC of its failures on Kashmir and Palestine issues and Muslim leaders’ weak stance on Islamophobia and extremism. “Unless we are united, unless we take a united stand, we will be nowhere. India and Israel are committing war crimes in Kashmir and Palestine with impunity because they think Muslim countries are too ineffective to stand up to their actions. We have failed both the Palestinians and the people of Kashmir. I am sad to say that we have been able to make no impact at all,” he stressed.

In its declaration, the OIC renewed solidarity with the people of Kashmir and expressed complete support for their inalienable right to self-determination. It also condemned human rights violations in IIOJ&K and rejected India’s illegal and unilateral actions related to Kashmir since August 5, 2019. “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,” the Islamabad Declaration said.

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. “We acknowledge Pakistan’s pivotal role as an anchor of stability in South Asia, and commend 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,” the foreign ministers noted.

It is also to the credit of Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan that the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has approved a resolution to mark March 15 as International Day to Combat Islamophobia. The resolution, introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the OIC, was adopted by consensus by the 193-member world body and co-sponsored by 55 mainly Muslim countries, emphasised the right to freedom of religion and belief and recalled a 1981 resolution calling for “the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief”. It marks the day when a gunman entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people and injuring 40 others. The resolution expresses deep concern at “the overall rise in instances of discrimination, intolerance and violence, regardless of the actors, directed against members of many religions and other communities in various parts of the world, including cases motivated by Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianophobia and prejudices against persons of other religions or beliefs”. The resolution asks all countries, UN bodies, international and regional organisations, civil society, the private sector, and faith-based organisations “to organise and support various high-visibility events aimed at effectively increasing awareness at all levels about curbing Islamophobia”, and to observe the new International Day to Combat Islamophobia. Formally introducing the resolution, Pakistan’s UN envoy Munir Akram said Islamophobia had become a reality that was proliferating in several parts of the world. “Such acts of discrimination, hostility and violence towards Muslims – individuals and communities – constitute grave violations of their human rights, and violate their freedom of religion and belief. It is particularly alarming these days, for it has emerged as a new form of racism characterised by xenophobia, negative profiling and stereotyping of Muslims,” he warned.

The OIC session and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)’s approval of a resolution to mark March 15 as International Day to Combat Islamophobia have improved Pakistan’s image in the Muslim world. It also increased the falling popularity of Prime Minister Imran Khan in the country. However, the OIC should go beyond resolutions on issues of the Islamic world and make an action plan to solve them.