OIC’s rebuke to India on Kashmir issue

New Delhi recently lashed out over a reference in a strong-worded communiqué by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to the Kashmir issue at the recent 14th Islamic Summit of the OIC at Makkah, Saudi Arabia. This was a great rebuke to India because just three months ago, India was the guest of honour at an OIC meeting in Abu Dhabi. Indian foreign minister Ms Sushma Swaraj had then hailed the OIC as “an organisation that has a key role in shaping our world”. The visibly upset Indian foreign ministry declared: “We categorically reject yet another unacceptable reference to matters internal to India in the final communiqué adopted at the conclusion of the 14th Islamic Summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states held at Makkah, Saudi Arabia on 31 May 2019. The OIC has no locus standi in matters relating to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India. It is reiterated that OIC should refrain from making such unwarranted references”. The OIC, at its conference at Makkah, approved Yousef Aldobeay of Saudi Arabia as the OIC’s special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir, besides making important references to the Kashmir issue. The Final Communique of the 14th Islamic Summit Conference in Makkah “reaffirmed its principled support for the people of Jammu and Kashmir for the realization of their legitimate right to self-determination, in accordance with relevant UN resolutions”. The Conference “condemned the recent outbreaks of violence in the region and invited India to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions to settle its protracted conflict with its neighbour”. It also called for “the expedited establishment of a UN commission of inquiry to investigate into the grave human rights violations in Kashmir, and called on India to allow this proposed commission and international human rights organizations to access Indian-occupied Kashmir”. In December 2018, the OIC General Secretariat had “expressed strong condemnation of the killing of innocent Kashmiris by Indian forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir”, described the “direct shooting at demonstrators” as a “terrorist act”, and “called upon the international community to play its role in order to reach a just and lasting solution to the conflict in Kashmir”.

Earlier, the 2017 session of the Council of OIC Foreign Ministers had adopted a resolution “reaffirming the unwavering support for the Kashmiri people in their just cause”, “expressing deep concern at atrocious human rights violations being committed by the Indian occupation forces since 1947”, and “paying rich tribute to the valiant people of IoK who continue to wage heroic struggle”. According to a report in the Indian media, the OIC, formerly Organisation of the Islamic Conference, is the second largest inter-governmental organisation in the world after the United Nations, with a membership of 57 states in four continents. The OIC describes itself as “the collective voice of the Muslim world”, and its stated objective is “to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world”. The OIC has reserved its membership for Muslim-majority countries. Russia, Thailand, and a couple of other small countries have observer status. At the 45th session of the Foreign Ministers’ Summit in May 2018, Bangladesh, the host country, had suggested that India, where more than 10pc of the world’s Muslims live, should be given the Observer status, but Pakistan had opposed the proposal. In the context of current events, the OIC statement on held Kashmir is a noteworthy victory for Pakistan and shows its excellent relations with the Muslim world. It also shows to the world that while India brutally suppresses the people of occupied Kashmir through harsh counter-insurgency tactics, Pakistan continues to follow a clear well-executed policy on the issue, which has been thrust back in the spotlight, especially after the Pulwama incident.