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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Pakistan threatens alternative bloc if Kashmir issue not highlighted by OIC

Pakistan's foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has unequivocally stated that Pakistan is fed up of the dilly-dallying by Arab states on Kashmir. He has given the OIC an ultimatum: either highlight the Kashmir issue, or lose the second largest country and the only nuclear power of the Muslim World forever. If this request on Kashmir is not entertained, Pakistan will move forward and form another bloc of states willing to act on Kashmir, independent of the OIC.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in an unusually sharp warning asked Saudi Arabia-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday to stop dilly-dallying on the convening of a meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on Kashmir.

Appearing in a talk show on ARY News, the foreign minister said: “I am once again respectfully telling OIC that a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is our expectation. If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris.”

Pakistan will make own bloc if request on Kashmir is not entertained by OIC

Mr Qureshi said that if OIC fails to summon the CFM meeting, Pakistan would be ready to go for a session outside OIC. In response to another question, he said Pakistan could not wait any further.

Pakistan has been pushing for the foreign ministers’ meeting of the 57-member bloc of Muslim countries, which is the second largest intergovernmental body after the UN, since India annexed occupied Kashmir last August.

Read more: OIC wants halt to Kashmir abuse by India

Mr Qureshi had at an earlier presser explained the importance of CFM for Pakistan. He had then said that it was needed to send a clear message from Ummah on the Kashmir issue.

Although there has been a meeting of the contact group on Kashmir on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session in New York since last August and OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission has made statements on the rights abuses in the occupied valley, but no progress could be made towards the CFM meeting.

Why is Saudi Arabia unwilling to hold OIC session on Kashmir?

A major reason behind the failure to call the foreign ministers’ meeting has been Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to accept Pakistan’s request for one specifically on Kashmir. Riyadh’s support is crucial for any move at the OIC, which is dominated by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

Mr Qureshi said Pakistan skipped Kuala Lumpur Summit last December on Saudi request and now Pakistani Muslims are demanding of Riyadh to “show leadership on the issue”.

Read more: India in Kashmir: International law invalidates occupation

“We have our own sensitivities. You have to realise this. Gulf countries should understand this,” the foreign minister said, adding that he could no more indulge in diplomatic niceties.

Mr Qureshi made it clear that he was not being emotional and fully understood the implications of his statement. “It’s right, I’m taking a position despite our good ties with Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“We cannot stay silent anymore on the sufferings of the Kashmiris,” he said.

Pakistan is furious over Kashmir issue being sidelined at OIC

Frustration in Islamabad over OIC’s inaction on Kashmir has been growing for months. Prime Minister Khan voiced his concern while speaking at a think-tank during his visit to Malaysia in February.

Read more: Genocide of Kashmiris: OIC’s Human Rights Commission condemns India

“The reason is that we have no voice and there is a total division amongst [us]. We can’t even come together as a whole on the OIC meeting on Kashmir,” Mr Khan had said.

It should be recalled that Turkey, Malaysia and Iran had unequivocally rejected India’s annexation of Kashmir and voiced serious concerns on atrocities committed by Indian security forces on Kashmiris in the occupied valley.

Kaula Lumpur Summit: Is it time for a new OIC?

Earlier, in light of the Muslim world’s current depressing situation, the Malaysian President Mahathir Mohamad called for a conference in Kuala Lumpur to gather scholars and activists from across the Muslim world together. He described it as: “[A] first step … to help Muslims recover their past glories, or at least to help them avoid the kind of humiliation and oppression that we see around the world today.”

The summit has mostly focused not only on political issues, but especially the need for sustainable development in the Muslim world.

The summit’s declaration almost immediately sparked rumours and fears that the five primary countries of Malaysia, Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan and Qatar were trying to form a new bloc of power to rival the OIC.

While Mahathir officially denied such accusations personally to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz, it seems to have been to no avail.

Read more: Muslim 5: Pakistan Supports Dr. Mahathir’s Kuala Lumpur Summit

Saudi Arabia, fearful of a rival bloc or organisation to the OIC, seemed to have successfully taken action to diminish the summit’s potential impact.

However, by playing geopolitics-as-usual, Saudi Arabia failed to recognise what this summit truly represents in the long term.

However, most Muslims, fairly or unfairly, fail to see how the OIC has truly led to greater unity for the Muslim world over the past five decades.

The Muslim world’s desire for autonomy and real change is not going away anytime soon. Saudi Arabia and the OIC would do well to recognise it or risk being replaced by new actors.

GVS News Desk with additional input by other sources