MYRIAD problems afflicting Muslims today are of our own making. The combined GDP of a billion plus Muslims living in some 56 sovereign Muslim states is less than that of Japan. Barring a few countries like Malaysia and Turkey, most Muslim states are underdeveloped.
Pakistan has seven million children who do not go to schools, including 2.3 million between the ages of five to nine. Not a single university in the whole Islamic world remotely approaches the stature of European or American universities.
We need to break out of this. To start with, the moribund OIC needs to be revived for the purpose to integrate vast resources of the Muslim world and bring about intellectual, economic and political renaissance in it. The focus of reforms and measures in the OIC should be on intellectual revivalism of all Muslims through a network of world-class universities with state-of-the-art facilities established all over the Muslim world under the umbrella of the OIC.
A central Islamic bank should finance all such projects. What is needed is a revolution in the national mindset to get rid of the hundreds of years old cobwebs that clutter it up.
The economic integration of Muslim states through a network of interconnected rail and road links, liberalised trade with minimal trade barriers among Muslim states and common tariff, free movement of businessmen and entrepreneurs, a central Islamic bank to finance development projects and bailout packages, to name but a few, is needed.
Muslim leaders should agree on certain basic principles representing ‘common’ foreign policy of the OIC. For example, they can agree not to support attack on any member-state by a foreign aggressor or not to allow stationing of foreign forces on their lands without unanimous decision of the OIC, common stance on political issues like Palestine, Kashmir and so on.
We can also have a common international media channel as an official ‘mouthpiece’ of the OIC.
Muslim leaders on the platform of the OIC need to address a million-dollar question: how to negotiate an exit strategy for the US and its allies stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan?
They also need to watch out for the meddlesome role of foreign powers in the Arab Spring, and perform their due role to ensure that stable regimes are soon in place in all ‘destabilised’ countries.
ATHER NAVEED Karachi