OIC’s voice on Kashmir issue missing: Imran

Updated 05 Feb 2020

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PUTRAJAYA (Malaysia): Prime Ministers Imran Khan and Mahathir Mohamad shake hands after their joint news conference on Tuesday.—Reuters
PUTRAJAYA (Malaysia): Prime Ministers Imran Khan and Mahathir Mohamad shake hands after their joint news conference on Tuesday.—Reuters

KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan in his address on Tuesday at a Malaysian think-tank session on regional peace and security regretted that Muslim countries at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) could not come up with one voice against blatant human rights violations in India-held Kashmir.

“We don’t want the Muslim Ummah to come together to fight, but to protect the interests like any other community does. Despite being a population of 1.3 billion, Muslims [have] suffered all over the world, may it be in Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan,” said PM Khan while terming it a tale of disasters.

“The reason is that we have no voice and there is a total division amongst [us]. We can’t even come together as a whole on the OIC summit meeting on Kashmir,” the premier said while addressing the International Affairs Forum on Vision for Regional Peace and Security at the Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies on the last leg of his two-day visit to Malaysia.

He said the answer to the grave problem of ongoing persecution of Muslims was a collective and firm voice by the Islamic countries.

“The only solution is that Muslims must come together on something like what is happening in Myanmar and Kashmir, when someone is only being persecuted because of their religion,” he added.

PM regrets skipping Kuala Lumpur summit over ‘misconception’

He said no one in the western world could utter a single word against 12 million Jews because of them being a very cohesive, strong and influential community.

Mr Khan said it was fortunate that the recent conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran was over and expressed satisfaction that Pakistan played a part in reducing tensions between the two Muslim states.

The PM also praised his Malaysian counterpart Dr Mahathir Mohamad for taking an open stance on Kashmir despite threats by India to cut off import of palm oil. “A leader always has a belief system and an ideology, and that’s why we love and respect Mahathir,” he said.

The two premiers also told a joint presser following their one-on-one talks that they had discussed the palm oil trade. “I think Pakistan is quite ready to import more palm oil from Malaysia,” said the Malaysian prime minister before Mr Khan added, “That’s right, especially since we noticed that India threatened to cut Malaysia’s palm oil imports for supporting the Kashmir cause, Pakistan will do its best to compensate for that.”

Addressing the joint presser with his Malaysian counterpart in Putrajaya, PM Khan expressed regret for being unable to attend the Kuala Lumpur summit in December last year, explaining that there was a ‘misconception’ among some countries close to Pakistan that the conference would divide the Ummah.

Mr Khan said: “I want to say how sad I was that I couldn’t attend the conference in Kuala Lumpur in the middle of December. Unfortunately, our friends, who are very close to Pakistan as well, felt that somehow the conference was going to divide the Ummah. It was clearly a misconception because that was not the purpose of the conference as evident from when the conference took place.”

PM Khan had pulled out of the Kuala Lumpur summit attended by leaders of dozens of Muslim countries reportedly due to pressure exerted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. At the time, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had confirmed that Riyadh and the UAE had concerns about the summit.

Mr Khan told the media on Tuesday that he was “looking forward” to attending the conference because he felt that it was important that Muslim countries educate the West and other non-Muslim countries about Islam.

“All these misunderstandings, whether they are deliberate or whether they are by ignorance, [...] it is important that we the Muslim countries, educate them about the real message of our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

“I also felt that we need a media, which we are working on, some sort of a joint effort that not only projects this [...] but also develop content for our young people about what really Islam is,” the premier added.

He reiterated his regret for being unable to attend the conference.

Responding to a question about whether he would attend the KL summit next year, Mr Khan said: “Of course, I would, because now it is evident that the KL summit was not to divide the Ummah [...] If anything it was to unite the Ummah, so of course I would love to come.”

The Malaysian premier said he was committed to collaborate more closely on issues affecting the Muslim Ummah. He also shared the outcomes of the KL summit 2019 with Mr Khan.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2020