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OIC calls for referendum on Kashmir

Updated August 21, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Saturday expressed concern over gross human rights violations and unabated killings in India-held Kashmir and renewed its call for resolution of the dispute through peaceful means.

Addressing a press conference with Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz, OIC secretary general Iyad Madani noted that the situation in held Kashmir was deteriorating and urged the international community to act.

“The situation is getting worse rather than [becoming] better and this cannot continue,” he said after a meeting with Mr Aziz.


Aziz, Madani exchange views on the situation in held Valley and issues of Palestine, Afghanistan


Most Kashmiris want an end to Indian occupation and favour independence or a merger with Pakistan, which has long called for a plebiscite on the region’s future. “We should not be afraid of a referendum,” Mr Madani said, adding it was up to Kashmiris to decide their future.

Mr Aziz condemned the use of lethal force by the Indian forces against the defenceless Kashmiri protesters.

He said a peaceful solution to the dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions “is an imperative for regional peace and stability”.

Mr Madani, who is on an official visit to Pakistan, said the OIC would continue exposing the rights violations in the held Valley till resolution of the issue in accordance with the UN resolutions and wishes of Kashmiri people.

He renewed the OIC’s support to Kashmiris for their right to self-determination and said it was an international and legitimate issue.

He admitted that merely issuing statements by the world bodies over the ‘very serious’ situation in held Kashmir was not sufficient and called for a political solution to the issue.

“The international community has a role to play in this regard,” he said, adding the world must realise that human rights violations sho­uld be addressed promptly.

The OIC official expressed the hope that a comprehens­ive dialogue would take place between India and Pak­istan soon to address the core issues.

Mr Aziz thanked the OIC for consistently supporting Pakistan’s stance on the issue.

He said the OIC’s contact group on Kashmir would be meeting next month during the UN General Assembly session in New York to discuss rights violations in the held Valley.

Giving details of his meeting with Mr Madani, the ad­vi­ser said that they excha­nged views on enhancing co­­operation between Pakis­tan and the OIC on various matters pertaining to the Ummah.

He briefed the OIC general secretary about Pakistan’s desire of lasting peace in Afghanistan and the important role of the OIC in support of peace efforts in Afghanistan.

Defamation of religions

“We both stressed the need for intensifying cooperation among the OIC member countries and constructive exchange of ideas to address the increasing trends of Islamphobia and defamation of religions. We also agree that the platform of the OIC must be used to build a narrative against extremism and terrorism,” Mr Aziz said.

He said that Pakistan had always contributed to strengthening the bonds of fraternity and solidarity among the Muslim countries.

“We remain committed to working with the OIC for advancing all the legitimate causes of the Muslim Ummah, including the right of self-determination of the peoples of Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.

Mr Aziz told journalists they should wait for a response from the Indian side after a letter was handed over to the Indian High Commissioner, extending an invitation to the Indian foreign secretary to visit Islamabad by the end of this month to discuss the Kashmir dispute. He said UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon had offered to facilitate the dialogue if requested by both Pakistan and India.

Lauding the role played by Pakistan as the founding member of the 57-member OIC, Mr Madani dropped a hint that OIC would be soon holding its meeting in Pakistan.

He said his visit also meant as preparation for the upcoming meeting of the OIC council of foreign ministers in October to be held in Tashkent.

He said the OIC was organising an ulema conference to discuss measures for ensuring a prosperous, peaceful and united Afghanistan and expressed his gratitude to Pakistan for its support in this regard.

He said an OIC representative office had opened in Ramallah and expressed the hope that soon there would be a stable unity government in Palestine.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2016