The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers’ 48th meeting was held on 22-23 March 2022 in Islamabad and the theme of this year’s CFM meeting was “Partnering for Unity, Justice, and Development”. After reviewing the progress made by the 57-member organization on the resolutions passed by the Council and the challenges faced by the Muslim world, the 48th Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting adopted the Islamabad Declaration after the meeting. The 70-point Islamabad Declaration seems to be a comprehensive document that has covered all the areas including attempts made by the Muslim world to counter Islamophobia, Kashmir, Palestine, Afghanistan, the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, and even conflict in non-Muslim areas such as Ukraine-Russia war.
The OIC’s CFM has supported Pakistan’s call for a joint probe to accurately establish the facts surrounding the accidental firing of a missile into Pakistan from India. The OIC passed a resolution which “urged India to work constructively with Pakistan for enhancing regional security and stability through the settlement of outstanding issues and positively responding to Pakistan’s proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime including measures for arms control, restraint, and confidence-building”.
This column will address two questions
Firstly, what role has Pakistan played in the OIC? Secondly, to what extent the OIC has addressed the issues faced by the Muslim world?
Since its inception, Pakistan has been supporting the cause of the Muslim world irrespective of race, color, and geographic location. And, Pakistan’s support for the Palestine issue has not been any secret rather Pakistan has suffered its interest while not recognizing Israel and standing firmly with the Palestinian Muslims. Establishing a close relationship with the Muslim countries is a key determinant of Pakistan’s foreign policy. While emphasizing this point Pakistan’s founding father Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah recalled: “deep sympathy and interest” with which the Muslims of British India followed the fortunes of Turkey right from the birth of political consciousness among them.
As a founding member of the OIC, Pakistan has always been at the forefront of the OIC’s efforts for the Muslim cause whether the Palestine issue, Iran-Iraq war, Kuwait-Iraq war, the Afghanistan issue, and the challenges faced by the Muslim minorities anywhere in the world. Pakistan has the privilege to host several events of the organization such as the Second summit of OIC in 1974 and an Extraordinary OIC Summit in 1997 and meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) in 1970, 1980, 1993, 2007, and now in 2022.
Regarding the OIC, the perception among the common Muslims is “Oh I See”. However, the role of the multilateral organization like the OIC, which is not a geographically cohesive organization, needs to be looked at pragmatically. There is no doubt that the OIC is the second-largest multilateral forum after the United Nations; however, it has some limitations. The OIC is not an organization of developed countries so it does not hold any significant leverage to influence the decisions of the major powers of the world.
Similarly, the OIC, contrary to many other multilateral organizations, does not have any enforcement apparatus for implementing its decisions. Rather, it can only exert moral pressure and can use persuasive measures to alter the behavior and response of other states. And, this is what the OIC is doing through the passing of the resolutions condemning human rights violations in Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir; Palestine, and Myanmar. Most importantly, OIC is neither a military alliance nor it has a joint military force to carry out collective military action.
The grave dilemma of the Muslim world has been internal divisions
During the Cold war period of 1945-1990, the Muslim world was divided into block politics centered around the Soviet-led Communist block and the US-led Capitalist world. And, this internal division badly affected the cause of the Palestine issue. The Muslim world also faces Arab and non-Arab division among themselves in addition to Shia and Sunni divide.
The recent example of this internal divide and vested interests of the Muslim countries can be given here as when the meeting of the 48th CFM was in progress in Islamabad, the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was hosting the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Shaikh Muhammad bin Zayed al Nahyan in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-sheik.
Addressing the inaugural session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers’ 48th meeting, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has rightly urged the OIC member countries to at least display “unity on core issues” instead of altering their foreign policies. This is the need of the hour, particularly in the context of Islamophobia faced by 1.5 billion Muslims across the world as well as the settlement of the longstanding issues of Palestine and Kashmir.
Dr. Tahir Ashraf holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and writes extensively on global politics. He teaches at the Department of International Relations, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan and can be contacted at email@example.com. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.