Pakistani bid to form group of OIC envoys at UN foiled

Updated May 27, 2020

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The UAE, Maldives oppose proposal for the group on Islamophobia. — AFP/File
The UAE, Maldives oppose proposal for the group on Islamophobia. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The United Arab Emirates and the Maldives together thwarted a Pakistani attempt to set up an informal group of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) envoys at the United Nations on Islamophobia.

A senior diplomatic source told Dawn that Pakistan’s permanent representative at the United Nations Munir Akram highlighted the issue of Islamophobia at a recent virtual meeting of the envoys of OIC member countries at the UN.

It was a routine meeting of the envoys of OIC countries, which discussed other issues as well.

The Pakistan envoy specifically highlighted the plight of the Muslims in India and the people of occupied Kashmir, who are suffering at the hands of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

He told the meeting that Islamophobia in India had become more pronounced during the Covid-19 pandemic and recalled the actions taken by Modi government to change demography of occupied Kashmir by allowing non-Kashmiris to take up permanent residence in the valley.

The UAE, Maldives oppose proposal for the group on Islamophobia

Amb Akram cautioned the OIC members against being deceived by India.

He called for setting up of a group of OIC countries to consider joint actions for countering Islamophobia.

Maldivian envoy Thilmeeza Hussain, according to Maldivian media, rejected “singling out of India” and said accusing Delhi of Islamophobia would be factually incorrect and detrimental to religious harmony is South Asia.

The UAE envoy, who was chairing the mee­ting, meanwhile, rejected Pakistani req­uest for an informal group on Islam­ophobia saying it was the mandate of the OIC foreign ministers to constitute such groups.

A Pakistani diplomat, who has remained posted at the UN, said formation of such groups was common even at the OIC level and such groups could be constituted by the envoys. He said these groups helped in lobbying efforts, operated as pressure groups and could move resolutions together.

The source said the UAE mission at the UN later told Pakistani mission that the formation of the group was not allowed because of confusion on the rules for establishment of such groups.

Diplomats recall that Pakistan and the Maldives have in the past maintained good working relationship at multilateral forums. The Maldives had withdrawn from Human Rights Council election in 2017 at Pakistan’s request and its withdrawal had paved the way for Pakistan’s success as both were in Asia group.

The Maldives had later the same year invited Pakistan’s prime minister to its 52nd Independence Day celebrations.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday tweeted: “Pakistan has consistently appealed to @UN & @OIC_OCI to condemn Modi’s Hindutva supremacist ideology with relentless Islamophobia & violence/regional instability perpetuated.”

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2020