Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Business Recorder editorial April 11, 2017

OIC on Kashmir Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr Yusuf Ahmad Al-Othaimeen on his maiden visit to Pakistan has had discussions with Pakistan’s Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on the issues confronting the Muslim world. In a joint press conference in Islamabad with the Adviser, the visiting dignitary revealed that India was declining the OIC’s request for a visit to Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) to assess the human rights situation. However, he went on, we should keep up the pressure on India’s human rights violations in IHK and for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The Kashmir issue was at the top of the OIC’s agenda, he assured. The OIC, he underlined, had the same position as Pakistan, an important member, on Kashmir, Palestine, Islamophobia and the plight of Muslim communities in non-Muslim countries. He thanked Pakistan for supporting the programmes and causes espoused by the OIC. The two sides discussed the holding of the upcoming summit of the OIC on Science and Technology. The Secretary General said the OIC condemns all terrorist acts in Pakistan or any other country. Terrorism is terrorism, he emphasised, it has no race or religion. Islam on the other hand is a religion of peace and co-existence. The two sides vowed to work closely on all issues facing the Muslim Ummah. On the conflict in Syria, Dr Al-Othaimeen was of the view that there were two dimensions -- political and humanitarian. OIC would like a political solution and the mobilisation of support for refugees. He hoped the OIC contact group on refugees would be formed at the next meeting of OIC foreign ministers. The OIC also wants to initiate a dialogue with European countries on the issues faced by Muslims in those countries, since the OIC is in a unique position to play the role of a bridge between those Muslim communities and the host governments. Sartaj Aziz in turn thanked the OIC and Muslim countries for their consistent support on Kashmir. He said he had briefed the Secretary General on the human rights violations in IHK. They agreed to work together to combat Islamophobia and hatred against Muslims and formulate a joint Islamic action against blasphemous material, including on social media. The visit came at a time when four more people were killed during a strike on April 10 in IHK to protest the eight civilians killed and at least a hundred wounded during a weekend by-election. About 100 police and paramilitary personnel were also injured. The Indian army claimed the four killed on April 10 were infiltrators. On Sunday, April 9, protests and clashes had marred a by-election as thousands attacked polling stations. Only seven percent of the nearly 1.3 million voters turned out on polling day. This was the lowest in any election in IHK in five decades. These declining numbers reflect the differing perceptions of pro-freedom parties in the State and India. The former reject elections under Indian occupation. The latter points to polls as proof it is in control in the region. The uprising currently ongoing broke out after the killing of militant commander Burhanuddin Wani by the Indian security forces last year. Since then, violence in IHK has led to 84 civilian deaths and 12,000 civilian and security personnel wounded. Given these grim figures, and despite the bonhomie on display at the joint press conference, the track record of the OIC does not inspire confidence. Despite ritual lip service, the OIC has proved toothless in the face of most if not all the issues confronting the Muslim world, especially Kashmir and Palestine. The reasons are obvious. The OIC merely reflects the divided state of the Muslim world, with differing and sometimes opposed interests paralysing the body’s ability to act effectively. There is nothing on the horizon to indicate anything in this regard has changed.

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