The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was established in 1969 to create a forum to project the “Collective Voice of the Muslim World.” Like the functioning of any international organization, the OIC had its ups and down; nonetheless, it remains and maintains its presence in the international arena. However, contrary to the wishes of the world’s people, international politics continues to attest and endure the logic put forward by Realist scholars about relative power capabilities.
The latter makes the international players more or less like the billiard balls and the larger the ball, the larger it sways and displaces. Regardless of such arguments revolving around realpolitik and the harsh realities of the international system, Pakistan being a responsible member of the international community and a concerned neighbor of brotherly Afghanistan, earnestly endeavors to do its part in bringing peace, stability, and prosperity in South Asia and beyond. To fulfill such wishful ventures, Pakistan hosted the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad on December 19, 2021. The Radio Pakistan reported that “20 foreign ministers, 10 deputy foreign ministers, and 437 delegates was a huge success for Pakistan, and a great breakthrough made with the coordination between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.”
What happened at OIC?
At the OIC Summit, Prime Minister Imran Khan feared that “Afghanistan will become the biggest man-made crisis if the world doesn’t act.” Also, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that “If we don’t pay timely attention, half of Afghanistan’s population or 22.8 million people can face food shortage and 3.2m children may face malnutrition. This is the magnitude which we and the world should understand.” PM Imran Khan highlighted the Kashmir Dispute at the OIC Summit and called for a “unified plan.”
He also extended concern over the distressful situation in Palestine. Pakistan is also part of the Troika Plus comprising of the United States, Russia, China, and Pakistan; and the New QUAD involving the United States, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. These international coalitions reflect the importance and sincerity of Pakistan in managing the Afghan situation and preventing the potential humanitarian crisis.
It, however, is quite unfortunate that the major burning issue of the South Asian region, i.e., the Kashmir Dispute was not on the agenda of the OIC. It is to be remembered here that according to Kashmir Media Service and Kashmir Institute of International Relations, since the revocation of Articles 370 and 35A in August 2019, more than 442 civilians were killed in fake encounters extra-judicially and thousands of innocent Kashmiri people were subjected to torture and soft targets of merciless pellet guns.
What worse is, that the number is on the rise and on October 29, 2021, the Indian newspaper The Hindu reported that “civilian deaths in J&K cross two-year high in October 2021.”Since August 5, 2019, till now for more than two years, the people of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) are witnessing an unrelenting and unmatched round of Indian state-sponsored terrorism in the IIOJK. It’s been more than two years since the indigenous people of the IIOJK are robbed of their essential rights and to exercise fundamental civil freedoms.
What was Pakistan’s agenda at OIC?
It is worthy to note that the recent Islamabad Conclave 2021 organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), Pakistan, stressed resolving the Kashmir Dispute. At the event, the Jakarta-based independent author and analyst Ms. Laura Schuurmans from the Netherlands, condemned the Indian brutalities in IIOJK and hoped for a “sustainable dialogue” between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals and to include the Kashmiri people in such negotiations.
It is condemnable that the Indian media seems ever busy in spouting hatred against Pakistan and for organizing a unified voice for the people of Afghanistan. A renowned South Asian expert Michael Kugelman tweeted on December 20, 2021, that “I disagree w/those saying the OIC summit is destined to be a damp squib. It’s the largest non-UN international gathering on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. If this new humanitarian fund announced today can get a critical mass of OIC buy-in and contributions, then that’d be a good thing.” It is to be remembered here that India invested heavily in organizing anti-Pakistan elements in Afghanistan and instigating wrong elements of irredentism and nationalism among Afghan people.
Pakistan complained time and again about the Indian involvement in Afghanistan and using it against the interests of Pakistan. India has every right to have a presence in Afghanistan and this should not be worrisome for Pakistan; nevertheless, sabotage under the guise of diplomacy is something condemnable. However, the Taliban takeover has become India’s worst nightmare and it has already lost its terror networks. It has also lost the ground it gained under the Ghani Government. On the other hand, Pakistan is concerned about Afghanistan, as historically, Islamabad gave shelter to millions of Afghan refugees for decades and worked relentlessly for their rehabilitation. It is laudable that Pakistan didn’t create hurdles for transiting the wheat New Delhi sent for Afghan people.
It can be concluded adamantly that International Relations are now and have always been overshadowed by state actors pursuing their respective national interests. However, citing the current and past history, the international organizations and Actors of Other Than States (AOTSs) are gaining sway in international politics. The OIC, though, seems a relatively smaller billiard ball having little sway; nonetheless, it has given a clear message to the world. Likewise, Pakistan could use the same forum for many other diplomatic and strategic ventures.
Besides OIC, Pakistan is also diplomatically engaged with great powers including the United States, China, Russia, and a number of major European players. Islamabad could utilize such relations in strengthening its fragile economy and escaping the perils of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The recent acknowledgment by the U.S. State Department that affirmed Pakistan’s positive steps can be cited as an example.
The author is a Research Associate at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), Pakistan. He co-authored the book Realism and Exceptionalism in U.S. Foreign Policy: From Kissinger to Kerry (2020). He can be reached at email@example.com. The views in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.