FO hails OIC contributions to Kashmir cause

Updated 21 Aug 2020

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FO spokesperson Zahid Chaudhri says Islamabad committed to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia. — Twitter/File
FO spokesperson Zahid Chaudhri says Islamabad committed to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia. — Twitter/File

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office Spokes­man Zahid Chaudhri on Thursday reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and recalled its contributions to the Kashmir cause.

“Pakistan remains committed to the unity of Muslim Ummah and has always worked towards that end. Pakistan will continue its efforts to keep the Muslim Ummah united,” Mr Chaudhri said in his maiden briefing as the FO spokesman.

It should be recalled that what appeared to be a crisis in Pakistan-Saudi Arabia ties began with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s criticism of the OIC for its dilly-dallying on convening of a Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting on occupied Kashmir.

Also read: Qureshi asks OIC to stop dragging feet on Kashmir meeting

Mr Qureshi had threatened to convene a meeting of the Muslim countries even outside the OIC setting, if the 57-member bloc continued with its reluctance on calling the Kashmir meeting.

Says Islamabad committed to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia

The outgoing FO spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, had at the last media briefing on Aug 6 defended Mr Qureshi’s statement on OIC, saying it was a reflection of people’s aspirations and expectations from the OIC to raise the Kashmir issue internationally.

Mr Chaudhri praised OIC’s contributions on the issue of Kashmir, saying it had indeed played “an important role” by establishing a contact group, appointing a special envoy of the secretary general on the dispute, and passing a number of resolutions condemning Indian actions and continuing human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.

The rare bitterness in tone on the OIC’s role seems to have gone away after Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, where he met his military counterpart and the deputy defence minister.

Mr Chaudhri said Gen Bajwa’s trip “testifies to the unchanged fraternal relations and close contact between the two brotherly countries”. He also referred to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s comments stressing the importance of ties.

He said Pakistan valued Saudi Arabia’s important role in the OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir. “Pakistan has an abiding commitment to defending the sanctity of Harmain Sharifain. Pakistan remains firmly committed to the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia,” he maintained and praised the Saudi leadership.

“The people of Pakistan have special reverence and affection for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (Khadim-ul-Harmain Sharifain),” he further said.

On Palestine, the spokesman reiterated there was “no change in Pakistan’s principled position” and repeated Pakistan’s longstanding position on the dispute to dispel the impression created by an earlier vaguely worded statement on the UAE-US-Israel agreement on normalisation of ties.

“We have an abiding commitment to the full realisation of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination. For a just, comprehensive and lasting peace, Pakistan has consistently supported a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions as well as international law, with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of Palestine,” he added.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2020