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PM asks OIC to protect Muslims’ political struggles

June 02, 2019

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PRIME Minister Imran Khan in a group photo with the leaders of OIC member countries at the summit in Makkah on Saturday.
PRIME Minister Imran Khan in a group photo with the leaders of OIC member countries at the summit in Makkah on Saturday.

MAKKAH: Prime Minister Imran Khan has called upon the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to make resolute efforts to ensure delinking of legitimate political struggles of the Muslims from terrorism and safeguarding the rights of the Palestinians and people of India-held Kashmir.

Addressing the 14th OIC summit in Makkah on Saturday, the prime minister termed Islamophobia and the issue of blasphemy in the West an OIC failure that he said resulted in delegitimising the freedom struggles of Muslims. Their political struggles for rights were being dubbed as ‘Islamic radicalism and terrorism’, he said while referring to the Palestinians and the Kashmiris of the India-held valley who have been facing brutal oppression.

Mr Khan said there was no solution to the Palestine issue except the two-state solution with Al Quds as the capital of the Palestinian state as well as the return of the Golan Heights. Similarly, he said, the people of India-held Kashmir had not been given their right to self-determination as had been guaranteed by UN Security Council’s resolutions.

The prime minister reminded the participating kings, heads of state and government that the OIC owed a responsibility to the Muslim world in terms of the need to take a strong position on blasphemy.

Palestinian cause is the cornerstone of OIC works, says Saudi king

He said acts of blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) emanating from the Western countries were both wilful as well as out of ignorance. He regretted that the OIC did not respond effectively to the incidents of blasphemy in the West and urged the OIC member states to educate the West on the importance of religion among Muslims as well as their love and affection for the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). “The West must not be allowed to hurt the feelings of the Muslim world under the garb of freedom of opinion and expression,” he said.

Mr Khan also called upon the OIC member states to use this platform and resources to ensure provision of quality education to the people and promotion of science, technology and innovation so as to ensure that the Muslims must not be left behind in the age of the next industrial revolution.

Highlighting the importance of countering Islamophobia with particular reference to conflation of “violent extremism” with Islam and the use of terms like “Islamic terrorism” and “radical Islam”, the prime minister urged the West to differentiate between the vast majority of moderate Muslims and the largely fringe extremist elements.

The summit of the 57-member bloc also denounced the controversial US moves to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and threw its support behind Palestinians ahead of a US-led peace plan suspected to be skewed in favour of Israel.

The OIC statement came as US President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner prepares to roll out economic aspects of his Middle East peace plan at a conference in Bahrain later this month. The plan, which has been heavily talked up by Trump and dubbed his “deal of the century”, has already been rejected by the Palestinians, who say his policies had shown him to be overwhelmingly biased in favour of Israel.

Mr Kushner, who was in Jerusalem on Friday on the latest leg of a regional tour to sell the plan, had looked to an alliance with Saudi Arabia against Iran as a way to gain Arab support.

But Saudi King Salman told leaders of the OIC countries gathered at the summit that the Palestinian cause was the “cornerstone of the works of the OIC, and is the focus of our attention until the brotherly Palestinian people get all their legitimate rights”.

“We reaffirm our unequivocal rejection of any measures that would prejudice the historical and legal status of Quds (Jerusalem).”

The OIC summit, hosted and chaired by Khadim-Al-Harmain Sharifain King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud under the theme ‘Hand in Hand Towards the Future’, also backed Saudi Arabia in escalating tensions with Iran, as King Salman warned that “terrorist” attacks in the Gulf region could imperil global energy supplies.

“We confirm that terrorist actions not only target the kingdom and the Gulf region, but also target the safety of navigation and world oil supplies,” the king said while addressing the summit.

In a tweet just before the start of the summit, King Salman vowed to confront “aggressive threats and subversive activities”.

“Undermining the security of the kingdom effectively undermines the security of the Arab and Islamic world,” said OIC Secretary General Yousef bin Ahmed al-Othaimeen.

The summit came after Trump’s hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton said Iranian naval mines were “almost certainly” responsible for the damage to the four ships off the United Arab Emirates on May 12. Tehran dismissed the accusation as “laughable” and accused Mr Bolton of pursuing “evil desires for chaos in the region”.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was notably absent from the key OIC summit. He was instead represented by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani was also not present but sent a representative to the talks. Mr Erdogan’s visit would have been his first to the kingdom since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October last year.

PM meets Saudi crown prince

Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the summit, Prime Minister Imran Khan had a bilateral meeting with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The two leaders took stock of the current state of bilateral political, economic and trade relations and agreed to expedite decisions taken during the Crown Prince’s visit to Islamabad in February, particularly early implementation of the decisions taken at the first meeting of the Supreme Coordination Council (SCC).

The two leaders also agreed to regularly exchange views on all issues of mutual interest.

Earlier, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman extended a warm welcome to Mr Khan on his visit to the kingdom for the OIC summit.

The PM thanked the crown prince for the traditional Saudi hospitality and extended felicitations on Saudi Arabia’s assumption of the OIC chair. He also thanked the government of Saudi Arabia for extending oil facility to Pakistan against deferred payments. He said the brotherly gesture of the kingdom provided timely support to Pakistan economy at a crucial juncture.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2019