Recalling failures, PM seeks ‘Islamic unity’

Published March 23, 2022
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan makes his point forcefully during the inaugural session of the 48th OIC Foreign Ministers meeting at Parliament House on Tuesday, as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud look on.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan makes his point forcefully during the inaugural session of the 48th OIC Foreign Ministers meeting at Parliament House on Tuesday, as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud look on.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star

• Imran regrets ‘divided house’ let Kashmiris, Palestinians down
• Wang Yi says China wants to collaborate with Muslim states

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday urged unity among Muslim countries for protecting their interests in a divided world as he rued the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) failures on Kashmir and Palestine disputes and Muslim leaders’ infirm stance on Islamophobia and extremism.

The prime minister, addressing the inaugural session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers’ 48th meeting at Parliament House in Islamabad, noted that a new cold war had already begun, which would leave the world split in blocs. “Unless we are united, unless we take a united stand, we will be nowhere,” he cautioned.

This year’s CFM is being held under the theme of “Partnering for Unity, Justice and Development”. Member states participating in the conference would review the progress made by the 57-member organisation on the resolutions previously adopted by the council and deliberate on the challenges confronting them and the Muslim world in general.

Besides the long-standing Palestine and Kashmir disputes, the war in Yemen, the dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and a Rohingya refugee crisis, other major issues affecting the Muslim countries include Islamophobia, extremism, poverty, economic instability and disparity, and gender inequality.

A divided house

Mr Khan said India and Israel were committing “war crimes” in Kashmir and Palestine with impunity because they think Muslim countries were too “ineffective” to stand up to their actions. “We have failed both the Palestinians and the people of Kashmir. I am sad to say that we have been able to make no impact at all. They don’t take us seriously. We are a divided house.

“We are 1.5 billion people, and yet our voice to stop this blatant injustice is insignificant,” the prime minister said, adding that this dismal situation was despite the fact that international law and UN resolutions backed their rights.

The prime minister said he was not asking the member states to alter their foreign policies, rather he only wanted them to forge “unity on core issues” of the Muslim world.

Talking about the resolution adopted by UN General Assembly declaring March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia, PM Khan said the world had at least acknowledged that Islamophobia was a reality and needed to be dealt with.

He, however, regretted that though the phenomenon had been growing in the West since 9/11, the Muslim countries did nothing to check this wrong narrative.

Mr Khan said that instead of taking a stand on the issue, the leaders of Muslim countries started hiding behind the façade of moderation. In this regard, he lashed out at ex-president Pervez Musharraf for claiming to start ‘enlightened moderation’. “Enlightened moderation was a term to appease those who were relating terrorism to Islam,” he believed.

Ukraine crisis

On Russia-Ukraine war, the prime minister asked the OIC and China to mediate an end to the conflict.

“May I suggest that the OIC during its discussions think about how we can mediate, how we can bring about a ceasefire, how we can try and put an end to the conflict,” he said.

While expressing concern over the raging war, Mr Khan warned its continuation could have “great consequences for the rest of the world”. He contended that countries maintaining a “nonpartisan” position were well placed for undertaking the mediation.

The PM also used the forum to reiterate Pakistan’s call for the world to engage with the Taliban government in Afghanistan as the surest way for ending terrorism threat from the war-devastated country.

“After 40 years of conflict, finally there is no conflict going on. The only danger now to Afghanistan is through the sanctions and non-recognition. They might end up having a humanitarian crisis,” he cautioned the Muslim world.

“I say this because the stable Afghanistan is the only way. I repeat, it’s the only way we are going to be able to stop international terrorism from Afghan soil. No other country is going to be able to do it,” he said, adding that the Muslim world would have to take stand.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged the OIC to prepare itself for dealing with contemporary challenges and conflicts in the Ummah.

“Pakistan stands ready to play its part as a bridge-builder in promoting regional and OIC-driven solutions to these conflicts and disputes,” he maintained.

Partnership with Muslim world

He proposed a comprehensive strategy for development of Muslim countries encompassing vaccine equity, increased development financing, comprehensive debt relief and restructuring, expanded ODA, redistribution of at least half of the unutilised special drawing rights (SDRs) to developing countries, provision of the promised climate finance, accelerated climate action, and action against illicit financial flows.

“Underdevelopment, poverty, and corruption remain serious threats to the future security and stability of our societies. In an era of economic and financial unpredictability, development partnerships among OIC member states would be of vital importance,” he said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who was participating in the meeting as a special guest, said his country wanted to build partnership with Muslim countries for solidarity, development, security and civilization in the turbulent and transforming world.

He proposed enhanced communication between the two sides. In this respect, he emphasized adherence to principles of mutual respect and mutual trust, accommodating each other’s core concerns, collaboration for the realisation of common development, learning from each other and safeguarding the diversity of civilizations in the world.

Saudi FM reaffirms support

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan reaffirmed Kingdom’s support for Palestine and Kashmir disputes.

“Saudi Arabia affirms the centrality of the Palestine cause and it supports all the international efforts at reviving the peace process among the conflicting parties and the return to direct negotiations to settle all the outstanding issues between the two parties,” he said.

He also expressed support for the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and international community’s efforts for a just solution to the dispute.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2022



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