EVEN as the Islamic world’s top diplomats met recently in Niamey, Niger, under the umbrella of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers, to present a united face to the world, it was obvious that narratives were changing within the Muslim bloc. The good news is that despite the omission of the Kashmir question in the OIC’s agenda, it appears that Pakistan has managed to score a major diplomatic victory.

On Saturday, the Foreign Office, issued a press release stating the OIC had unanimously adopted a resolution that condemned Indian tactics in the held region. Before the two-day event, the Foreign Office had rubbished the notion that the Kashmir issue would not be taken up, blaming it on “false Indian propaganda”.

Even then, there had been doubts; in August, Pakistan’s foreign minister had shown signs of impatience at the OIC’s delay in convening a foreign ministers’ meeting on Kashmir. In February, Prime Minister Imran Khan, during a visit to Malaysia, had himself spoken of divisions over the matter of Kashmir. Indeed, with India’s unlawful annexation of the disputed territory, and the worsening persecution of the Kashmiris, resolutions alone won’t do, and the OIC must take strong steps to draw the attention of world to the oppression and cruelty that reigns in the occupied land.

Meanwhile, divisions could be seen in other aspects; for instance, an official from Iran’s foreign ministry pointed to the growing bonhomie between Israel and some Arab nations on the verge of establishing formal relations with the Jewish state. Suspicious of Tel Aviv’s designs for decades now, the killing of yet another nuclear scientist near Tehran on Friday has led to Iranian allegations of an Israeli hand in the murder.

Many quarters have also linked the UAE’s recent decision to stop issuing new visas to citizens of a number of Muslim countries, including Pakistan, to the Emirates’ efforts to come closer to Israel. Not least among those concerned have been the Palestinians who see no hope for their future at a time when even their Arab brethren are leaving them at the mercy of an Israeli state that is expanding Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land besides resorting to brutal tactics against the Arab population. This is especially ironic when we consider that one of the OIC’s founding principles was to defend the Palestinian cause.

Muslim states talk of unity and rightly denounce Islamophobia which is gaining ground as right-wing forces leave no stone unturned to persecute Muslims and denigrate their religious and cultural beliefs. Ideally, the 57-member Islamic bloc should be a bulwark against the obscurantism that is now taking hold of the Western world. But its strength can only come from internal unity. While each member country has its own aspirations, it is the collective goal of a peaceful Islamic world that should set the tone for the OIC’s actions.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2020


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