ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in an unusually sharp warning asked Saudi Arabia-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday to stop dilly-dallying on the convening of a meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on Kashmir.
Appearing in a talk show on ARY News, the foreign minister said: “I am once again respectfully telling OIC that a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is our expectation. If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris.”
Mr Qureshi said that if OIC fails to summon the CFM meeting, Pakistan would be ready to go for a session outside OIC. In response to another question, he said Pakistan could not wait any further.
Pakistan has been pushing for the foreign ministers’ meeting of the 57-member bloc of Muslim countries, which is the second largest intergovernmental body after the UN, since India annexed occupied Kashmir last August.
Says Pakistan skipped Kuala Lumpur summit on Saudi request and now Pakistanis are demanding Riyadh ‘show leadership on the issue’
Mr Qureshi had at an earlier presser explained the importance of CFM for Pakistan. He had then said that it was needed to send a clear message from Ummah on the Kashmir issue.
Although there has been a meeting of the contact group on Kashmir on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session in New York since last August and OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission has made statements on the rights abuses in the occupied valley, but no progress could be made towards the CFM meeting.
A major reason behind the failure to call the foreign ministers’ meeting has been Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to accept Pakistan’s request for one specifically on Kashmir. Riyadh’s support is crucial for any move at the OIC, which is dominated by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
Mr Qureshi said Pakistan skipped Kuala Lumpur Summit last December on Saudi request and now Pakistani Muslims are demanding of Riyadh to “show leadership on the issue”.
“We have our own sensitivities. You have to realise this. Gulf countries should understand this,” the foreign minister said, adding that he could no more indulge in diplomatic niceties.
Mr Qureshi made it clear that he was not being emotional and fully understood the implications of his statement. “It’s right, I’m taking a position despite our good ties with Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“We cannot stay silent anymore on the sufferings of the Kashmiris,” he said.
Frustration in Islamabad over OIC’s inaction on Kashmir has been growing for months. Prime Minister Khan voiced his concern while speaking at a think-tank during his visit to Malaysia in February.
“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 meeting on Kashmir,” Mr Khan had said.
It should be recalled that Turkey, Malaysia and Iran had unequivocally rejected India’s annexation of Kashmir and voiced serious concerns on atrocities committed by Indian security forces on Kashmiris in the occupied valley.
Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2020