nisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) describes itself as the “second largest inter-governmental organisation after the United Nations” with a membership of 57 states across four continents. It claims to be the “collective voice of the Muslim world” which works to protect their interests “in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”.
Founded in 1969 after a summit that took place in Rabat, Morocco, the organisation is composed of three main bodies: The Islamic Summit, the Council of Foreign Ministers and the General Secretariat.
The 43rd session of the OIC is currently underway in Uzbekistan and has, among many topics, discussed the issue of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the India-Pakistan water war at the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, which precedes the actual session.
On Tuesday, Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Tariq Fatemi said that India wants to use water as a weapon against it by “flagrantly violating” its international treaty obligations, apart from condemning India’s human rights violations in Kashmir. Fatemi also called for the international community’s attention towards India’s “belligerent and aggressive designs”.
Pakistan had earlier warned the unilateral revocation of the Indus Waters Treaty by India will be considered as an ‘act of war’.
Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters
Fatemi, who is leading Pakistan’s delegation to the 43rd session of the OIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting, called upon the international community to reject India’s claim that Kashmir is an integral part of India.
It has to be noted that India is not part of the OIC: As the story goes, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and King Hussein of Jordan jointly told Pakistan’s then President Yahya Khan that it made sense for India to be part of the global Islamic group, since the country had a sizable Muslim population. However, Khan boycotted Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco’s decision and banned India, a decision that stands till now, according to a report in The Times of India. It also adds that India was also part of the goof up by letting ambassador Gurbachan Singh lead the talks and “not an Indian Muslim leader”.
It’s a surprising omission — India has close to 11 percent of the total Muslim population of the world. But there’s no surprise as to who is continuously opposing India’ membership to the OIC — Pakistan.
In 2000, Tehran was in favour of India joining the OIC, even as there needs to be a consensus in that matter. The Hindu reported that Pakistan was likely to object India’s entry, giving it a free rein to promote “anti-India resolutions”, especially on Kashmir. During Saudi Arabia King Abdullah’s visit to India in 2006 (he was the chief guest on Republic Day), he was eager to see India play an active role in OIC, which Pakistan immediately disapproved.
Lately, India has been reaching out to countries in West Asia to convince them of the country’s campaign against terror, reported The Hindu, while also reaching out to many OIC member countries. An OIC contact group on Jammu and Kashmir that held a meet in New York in September this year, noted Turkey and Azerbaijan’s support to Pakistan, which called for a “cessation of violence” in Kashmir.
On Monday, the Jeddah chapter of the Kashmir Committee, expressed solidarity with Kashmiris in the wake of the ongoing unrest that they describe were being carried out by Indian forces. A report in the Saudi Gazette noted: The committee condemned continuing atrocious human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, which include the use of brutal force to physically target innocent civilians including women and children, denial of the right to peaceful protest and assembly, protracted and strict curfews and unlawful detention of human rights activists and civilians.
Another reason as to why India does not yet have its membership status is because of the provision in Article 3(e) of the Conditions for Accession to Observer Status at OIC, reported Dawn. That a state applying for observer status should not be in conflict with any of the member states and the J&K dispute with Pakistan makes it difficult.
China, a key ally of Pakistan, had requested for observer status back in 2012. Pakistan backs China in this endeavour (apart from supporting it in the Non-Aligned Movement), reported Livemint, and had earlier shielded China against the latter’s remarks on Beijing’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang province
In the April summit of the OIC in Istanbul, Islamabad widely broadcasted the fact Islamic world leaders had asked India to put into effect pending UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, while expressing concern at violation of human rights by Indian security forces and backed the Kashmiri struggle for “self-determination”, reported The Indian Express.
KP Nayar, writing for The Telegraph, reported that the OIC’s ‘contact group’ mobilised Masood Khan (the so-called president of ‘Azad Kashmir’) to look at the possibility “of a resolution in the general assembly’s third committee, which deals with humanitarian issues, on the situation in Kashmir”. He further writes that Islamabad imposed Khan as the president in the parts of Kashmir that Pakistan occupies with the intention of “internationalising the Kashmir dispute with India”.