FO rejects ‘misleading’ reports about OIC virtual meeting

Updated May 28 2020

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Says “a large number of ambassadors” supported Pakistani position implies that not all of them backed it. — APP/File
Says “a large number of ambassadors” supported Pakistani position implies that not all of them backed it. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Wednesday rejected as “misleading” media reporting of a virtual meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) ambassadors at New York in which the Maldives objected to singling out of India for Islamophobia and Pakistan reportedly failed in its attempt to form a group on the issue.

FO spokesperson Aisha Farooqui, according to a statement, rejected the “misleading and factually incorrect” media reports about the virtual meeting of OIC ambassadors to the United Nations on May 20.

Dawn in its edition of May 27 reported about Maldivian objection and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) disallowing formation of the group on the grounds that it was the mandate of the foreign ministers.

The FO statement recapped points from the speech of Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York Munir Akram about growing incidents of Islamophobia in India and gravity of the situation. It then went on say that “a large number of OIC ambassadors” shared the concerns about the situation in India and supported the need for a coordinated OIC position on Islamophobia at the UN.

The statement’s assertion that “a large number of ambassadors” supported Pakistani position implies that not all of them backed it. Furthermore, the statement skipped Maldivian objection.

Maldivian foreign ministry in a statement on the meeting said: “Maldives cannot support any action within OIC that singles out or targets India.”

According to serving Pakistani diplomats, the OIC meeting participants with non-conforming views were traditionally brought around by “heavy weight” — a reference to Saudi Arabia and Egypt — but in this instance the Maldives persisted with its objection and there was no reach-out by any of the so-called heavyweights on the controversial remark.

The rejoinder furthermore makes no mention of Amb Akram’s call for the OIC countries to join Pakistan in a small working group for considering actions that the OIC can take at the UN to counter Islamophobia.

The UAE disallowed the move on technical grounds.

The FO, however, recalled past OIC statements “on Islamophobia and targeted violence against Muslims in India”.

“The OIC and its human rights body — OIC-IPHRC — have issued strong statements on the Indian Government’s recent anti-Muslim actions, including CAA, targeted killing of Muslims in Delhi, Babri Masjid verdict, and demonisation of Muslims in the context of Covid-19,” it recalled.

The FO maintained that besides OIC, the United Nations human rights machinery, international human rights organisations and international media had taken cognisance of the situation and expressed concerns on the plight of Muslims in India.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2020