News Desk |
Pakistan has announced its withdrawal from the 46th session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), which is being held in Abu Dhabi by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today 1st March and tomorrow.
This was declared by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday, March 1, 2019, during the joint session of parliament held to address the recent standoff between India and Pakistan and to discuss the future course of action.
Pakistan on Wednesday, 27th February had officially told the OIC that it may have to abstain from the foreign minister’s conclave if the invitation extended to the Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to be guest of honor at its inaugural session is not taken back.
Supporting Qureshi’s announcement, Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif appealed to the UAE crown prince to withdraw the invitation to India.
“I requested them [UAE] to review the decision [on the invitation to India]. UAE said that when we extended the invitation, Pulwama had not occurred,” Qureshi told lawmakers on Friday, adding that UAE officials said, “it would be hard to retract the invitation”.
“A joint resolution has been passed by the parliament, signed by all parties, which demands that Pakistan refrain from attending the OIC meeting. In light of this resolution, I will not attend the meeting,” said Qureshi, a declaration which drew applause from nearly all in session.
The foreign minister also told the house that the OIC’s secretary general as well as Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers had said that they had not been consulted on the matter. In a letter dated February 28th, FM Qureshi had told the UAE foreign minister that the invitation to Sushma Swaraj “was extended without member states consultation and contrary to the rules of the OIC”.
“India having conflict with at least one founding member state […] is disqualified from any association with the OIC,” says the letter, also informing Qureshi’s counterpart that a resolution was passed on Thursday in the parliament which took exception to “India an egregious aggressor against Pakistan as well as Kashmiri people” being invited as a guest of honor.
Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to be guest of honor at its inaugural session is not taken back.
The resolution demanded that Pakistan abstains completely [from the meeting] as a protest, the letter states. Qureshi, however, pointed out that there were 19 pending resolutions presented by Pakistan in the OIC — many of which concern the Kashmir issue. He said that a lower level delegation will be attending the meeting in order to represent Pakistan’s stance and oppose any proposal to grant India an observer status.
He further said that the Turkish foreign minister had termed it “unacceptable” for India to be granted observer status in the OIC. Supporting Qureshi’s announcement, Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif appealed to the UAE crown prince to withdraw the invitation to India.
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“UAE crown prince’s father was a friend of Pakistan and crown prince too is very fond of Pakistan. In the light of tensions with India, we request him [to retract the invitation to Indian FM],” said Sharif and added that even if the crown prince does not withdraw the invitation to India, “Pakistan should employ all forums” to push its demand. PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, however, said that Pakistan — being a founding member of OIC — should attend the meeting.
“I am a democratic man and if the house thinks that the foreign minister should not attend, then I won’t say much. But disengagement is not a solution. The foreign minister should attend the OIC meeting. Pakistan should be represented there,” Zardari said in the house and suggested that if the foreign minister did not think it appropriate to attend the meeting, he should send the foreign secretary.