Russia – Ukraine imbroglio has brought to life many corpses hitherto lying in limbo in their coffins. OIC is one of these. There is growing criticism that, whereas the West is scrambling all its resources to highlight the predicament of Ukrainians and providing them moral and material help, OIC remains, even as it remained in the past, listless and indifferent to the plight of Palestinians, Kashmiris, and Muslims elsewhere. Furthermore, OIC was a silent spectator when the US and its allies raped Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Let us dig into the past of this sleeping beauty.
Third World leaders crave symbols of the geopolitical aristocracy, a nuclear bomb being one of them. In the past, Nehru considered India the successor to the British Raj and hence, right from the beginning, craved for such symbols – an aircraft carrier, a nascent nuclear program with a military dimension, and even a power bloc of his own, known as the Nonaligned Movement. And India’s quest for joining the nuclear club did not have a China-centric origin, it started much before China became a nuclear power.
How did it all begin?
Talking of the Nonaligned Movement, it was one of the many Trojan horses sponsored by either of the superpowers during the Cold War. The Nonaligned Movement was led by Nehru, Tito, and Nasser. Nasser was a Soviet client through and through. Tito remained a Soviet protégé till rebuffed by Khrushchev. Nehru managed to perform a balancing act like a trapeze dancer, occasionally voting against the Soviet Union in world forums while trying to make the best of both worlds.
Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC – initially known as the Islamic Conference) was another such Trojan horse created by one Sher Ali Patodi, Yahya Khan’s information minister. Sher Ali was virally anti- Bhutto, hence the strongest opposition against OIC came from Bhutto, who alleged it was one of the CIA’s many front organizations.
Ironically, it was the same Bhutto, who, after assuming power, exploited OIC as an instrument to further his political interests. In his book “If I am assassinated” (Bhutto, 1979), he claims Pakistan’s nuclear program and holding of the OIC summit meeting in Lahore, among two of his biggest achievements.
What were Bhutto’s motives behind holding the Islamic Summit in Lahore?
The summit meeting, attended besides others, by King Faisal, Muammar Gaddafi, Anwar Sadaat, HouariBoumédiène, Idi Amin, and Bhutto’s nemesis, Mujibur Rehman, was reportedly convened after the 1973 Arab-Israeli War to express solidarity with the Arab world. Bhutto had cleverly contrived the meeting to recognize Bangladesh and close the East Pakistan chapter forever.
Why did Bhutto desperately need the bomb? After the 1970 general elections, the power struggle between the generals and the politicians had resulted in the creation of multiple centers of gravity in Pakistan. This political struggle, that resulted in the civil war in East Pakistan, was essentially a quest for power between three centers of gravity – Awami League, the Army, and the People’s Party.
In the post -1971 truncated Pakistan ruled by Bhutto, the quest for nuclear capability had replaced the need for borrowing power from the United States– it addressed Pakistan’s conventional asymmetry with India and underwrote Pakistan’s security. Conventional asymmetry with India was also as much a driver for Pakistan’s nuclear program as Bhutto’s sense of insecurity against the Pakistan Army. It also enhanced Bhutto’s confidence while dealing with the army and his political opponents. While providing deterrence against India, the bomb also promised to reduce the Army’s clout in Pakistan’s internal politics. Bhutto hoped that nuclear deterrence achieved against India would provide him a strong case to reduce the Army.
Bhutto supplemented his nuclear policy with conventional diplomacy
He also started cultivating Afghanistan’s Gulbadin Hikmatyar to destabilize Daud’s government. This happened before Afghanistan’s Saur Revolution as a result of which Daud was eliminated and power was assumed by a group of Marxists.
Did Bhutto’s quest for nuclear weapons capability cost him his life? We can only speculate. We do not have first-hand information to verify if Henry Kissinger did indeed threaten to make Bhutto a “horrible example”, as Bhutto alleged. Similarly, we cannot verify if Richard Armitage, some three decades later, threatened Pervez Musharraf to “bomb Pakistan into the stone age”, if it did not side with the USA after Nine Eleven. However, there is no denying that Bhutto had made intractable enemies by persecuting his political opponents, at least one of whom was sodomized by police on Bhutto’s orders (the gentleman also alleged that he was later raped by prostitutes while a provincial minister peeped through a ventilator). And these internal enemies had lusted for Bhutto’s blood.
Coming back to OIC, it remains, even today, a useless organization oblivious of the sufferings of starving Muslims all over the world while pandering to the interests of overfed, mentally retarded, lethargic, and corrupt rulers of the Muslim world.
Saleem Akhtar Malik is a Pakistan Army veteran who writes on national and international affairs, defense, military history, and military technology. He Tweets at @saleemakhtar53. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.