Leaders from across the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met in Saudi Arabia early Saturday for the 14th session of the Islamic Summit, which follows two emergency Arab meetings the night before in Makkah criticising Iran’s behaviour and influence in countries like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
The Muslim leaders discussed a breadth of critical issues, ranging from a spike in tensions in the Persian Gulf, to Palestinian statehood, the plight of Rohingya refugees and the growing threat of Islamophobia.
Prime Minister Imran Khan was among the leaders who spoke at the summit.
The premier started his maiden speech at the OIC by raising the issue of Islamophobia: "When someone from the West blasphemed our Holy Prophet (PBUH), I always felt the response from the Muslim Ummah and OIC was lacking."
"The OIC — us heads of states — owes a responsibility to the Muslim world [...] when somebody blasphemes our Prophet (PBUH), it is a failure of the OIC that we have not been able to explain to the other countries the love and affection we feel for our Holy Prophet," said Prime Minister Imran.
"Some western countries are suffering from Islamophobia. The West should differentiate between moderate Muslim and extremist Muslim."
"The international community has to respect the feelings of more than 1 billion Muslims," he added.
"I also want to bring up the point that the Muslim world must pay more attention to science and technology," the premier urged. "We must pay more attention to quality education and universities; an area in which the Muslim world lags. I fear the Muslim world may be left behind again and this is the best forum to raise this concern in."
He also touched upon the plight of the people of Kashmir as well as Palestine, saying Pakistan supports the two-states solution and recognising East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
"The people of Kashmir must also have their right to self determination; us as a body must stand against the oppression happening with the Muslim world."
At the summit, the premier met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The conference welcomed Pakistan's offer to host the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad in 2021.
It commended Pakistan for its "generosity and hospitality for hosting Afghan Refugees in the past 40 years", said a statement released by the Foreign Office.
Summit reiterates support for Kashmiris' right to self determination
The statement released by the Foreign Office spokesperson, reiterated "the conference's principled support for the legitimate right to self determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with UN resolutions".
The final communique of the conference, while referring to the UN Kashmir report of 2018, called for an "expedited establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate the grave human rights violations" in Kashmir. It urged India to allow the Commission and other international organisations access to Indian-occupied Kashmir.
According to the statement, the conference approved Yousef Aldobeay of Saudi Arabia as OIC's special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir, signifying its continued attention and focus on the Kashmir issue.
Kingdom's tensions with Iran
Saudi Arabia’s effort to bring regional leaders to Makkah reflects the Kingdom’s desire to project a unified Muslim and Arab position on Iran to further isolate it internationally and counter Tehran’s growing reach in the Middle East.
The Islamic summit, however, drew political figures and heads of state from countries spanning Africa, the Middle East and Asia with widely varying policies and priorities.
But for the summit’s host, Saudi Arabia, confronting Iran was at the top of the agenda.
“The drone attacks on Saudi oil pumping stations carried by groups supported by Iran do not only threaten the security of the Kingdom and the Gulf but also threaten maritime safety and global oil supplies," said Saudi King Salman in his inaugural speech at the OIC summit.
He added that the “sabotage” operations against four vessels, which included two Saudi oil tankers near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates, represent a dangerous threat against maritime safety, as well as regional and international security.
Iran denies involvement in the attacks.
Earlier today, as the summit began, King Salman said that Muslim nations will seek to confront threats and work for the future of Arab and Islamic states.
"We meet in [Makkah] to work to build the future of our peoples, to achieve security and stability for our Arab and Islamic countries, and to resolutely confront the threats of aggression and subversive activities so as not to hinder us from continuing to develop our countries and develop our societies," he had said in a tweet.
Summit slams US embassy move to Jerusalem
OIC also slammed the US decision to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise the disputed city as Israel's capital.
In his speech at the summit, King Salman declared that the Palestinian cause represents a core issue for the body and that the kingdom “refuses any measures that touch the historical and legal position of East Jerusalem”.
The summit condemned the “transfer of embassies of the United States and Guatemala to Jerusalem” and urged all members to “boycott” countries that have opened diplomatic missions in the city, a statement said.
The body also refused to accept any decision to change the legal and demographic status of Syria’s Golan Heights, especially the US decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the territory, the statement added.
The statement comes as US President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner prepares to roll out economic aspects of his long-awaited Middle East peace plan at a conference in Bahrain later this month.
The plan, dubbed by Trump as the “deal of the century”, has already been rejected by the Palestinians, who say Trump's policies have shown him to be blatantly biased in favour of Israel.
Palestinians have cut off all contacts with the Trump administration after the president broke with decades of bipartisan policy to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017.
Israel insists the whole of Jerusalem is its “eternal, indivisible capital”. The Palestinians demand the city's eastern sector as the capital of their long-promised state.
Inhumane situation of Rohingya
The summit also condemned the inhumane situation of Rohingya Muslims, urging a halt to violence, the statement said.
It stressed that Myanmar’s government has the responsibility to protect its citizens.