Dr Muhammad Khan
The two-day meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Islamabad on 22-23 March 2022 was a great event.
Under the theme of ‘Partnering for Unity, Justice and Development’ the 48th Session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers OIC Council of Foreign Ministers debated all challenges, facing the Muslim world.
At the end of this historic meeting (48th Session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers) Islamabad Declaration was issued, covering a wide-range of issues concerning the Muslim world, regional situation and global trends and shifts.
Two chronic disputes facing the Muslim world — Kashmir and Palestine — were also discussed during the meeting.
There is a clear mention of these disputes in the Islamabad Declaration of the 48th Session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers.
Nevertheless, it is more of traditional coverage of these disputes and paper work, rather serious efforts as really needed.
This can be traced from the chronology of OIC about chasing these disputes over the years.
At the time of its establishment in 1969, the founding fathers of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had a vision to debate and resolve the issues of the Muslim world.
Establishment of OIC was, indeed, driven by the unfortunate incident of burning a part of Al-Aqsa Mosque on 21 August 1969.
The fire burnt and destroyed a portion of old wooden roof and an 800-year-old pulpit.
The Muslim world took a very strong view of this incident and decided to have a formal forum to protect and safeguard the interests of Muslims anywhere in the world.
It was envisioned to act as the “collective voice of the Muslim world”. Mission of the OIC was to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”.
This 57-member organization is the biggest in the world, after the United Nations Organization.
OIC remained very active and passionate until late 1970s, a time line where most of the founding fathers of the organization remained in power in various Muslim states.
Thereafter, the organization started losing its international and regional impact.
In the subsequent years, the OIC merely became a tool in the hands of a few states to serve their interests or interests of the non-Muslim world.
Apart from promoting unity among Muslim states, Palestine and Kashmir were two prominent issues of the Muslim world at the time of establishment of OIC in 1969/70.
These issues were internationally recognized through a number of United Nations resolutions.
In a way, OIC had a strong base to pursue and resolve these international issues in line with the UN Charter and UN resolutions, since both were the issues of right of self-determination.
Moreover, persuasion of these issues for a logical resolution could have raised the status of the OIC as the sole Muslim representative organization with a lot of international connotation, weightage and stimulus.
Unfortunately, the subsequent leadership of Muslim states deviated from the primary goals of the OIC (resolving the issues of Muslim world), thus lost its status as a unique and powerful voice.
There must have been the international conspiracies against OIC; nevertheless the Muslim leadership of a few states is responsible for its relegation and vanity.
The degradation of the OIC has relegated and paralysed the two internationally recognized disputes of the Muslim world — the Palestine dispute and the Kashmir dispute.
Showing its detachment and neutrality with a dispute which became reason of its establishment is like losing the goals.
As per famous proverb and quote, “If the plan does not work, change the plan, but never the goal”.
In case of OIC, it has changed the goal rather the plan and strategy to pursue.
In the Islamabad Declaration, it was re-emphasized that Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif are central issues for Muslim world; “reaffirming its principled and continued all-level support to the Palestinian people to regain their inalienable legitimate national rights, including their right to self-determination”.
This all seems a paper work and maximum the lips services. Analysing on realistic grounds, there is no goal, the organization is pursuing since last few decades.
It has abandoned the Palestinian cause and neighbouring states of Israel are lined-up to beg the friendship of the State of Israel; the aggressor, occupier and killer of Palestinians.
Today, some of the influential member states of OIC are declaring the Palestinians as illegal and terrorist while simultaneously declaring Israel as the guiltless and legal state.
The Islamabad Declaration though demanded settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions, but there is no mechanism devised or proposed by this forum to pursue this dispute for its ultimate solution.
Mere statements may not be sufficient over Kashmir dispute, since India is perpetrating a reign of terror in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir with massive demographic changes in the State.
The contemporary position of the OIC is, in fact, a major departure from the founding vision of the organization since there has been no action over the core issues of the Muslim world.
As per famous Japanese saying, “Vision without action is day dream.Action without vision is nightmare.
” In order to make it regionally relevant and internationally vibrant organization, the OIC will have to take a clear position on the core issues of the Muslim world.
Since Kashmir and Palestine are truly the core issues of the Muslim world besides their international recognition, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will have to own them in totality with a clear position for their settlement as per UN resolutions.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.
Courtesy Pakistan Observer