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OIC summit in Makkah to be held in camera

December 03, 2005

ISLAMABAD, Dec 2: The third extraordinary OIC Summit in Makkah Mukarramah, next week will be an in-camera event, it is learnt. The Summit will to be held on December 7-8.

“The entire proceedings of the two-day summit will be in-camera,” a well-placed source in Saudi Arabia told Dawn on Friday.

This will be the first-ever summit of the 57-member pan-Islamic body that will be conducted away from the media glare.

Outside the OIC membership the APHC and Bosnia will attend the upcoming summit.

The summit, convened at the initiative of Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz in January 2005, is aimed at defining the Ummah’s response to the multiple challenges it faces internally and externally.

President Musharraf, who will be leading Pakistan’s delegation, will make some specific proposals in this context, sources said. He will be addressing the summit most probably on the opening day.

A significant feature of the Makkah summit will be adoption of ‘Ten-Year Programme of Action’ to restructure and revitalize the pan-Islamic body. The programme is based on the Recommendations of the Commission of Eminent Persons (CEP) and Makkah Forum of Scholars and Intellectuals.

At the 10th Islamic summit in Putrajaya, Malaysia, in October 2003, President Musharraf while formally presenting the concept of ‘Enlightened Moderation’ had proposed establishing of the CEP.

Key questions will be raised at the Makkah summit when Ummah faces a number of problems and there has been criticism of the OIC for not playing an effective role as a global Islamic body representing a fourth of the world’s population. These include the need to use the institutional platform of OIC to take a unified stand on the challenges facing the Muslim world and to counter effectively the attempt to isolate the Muslim world in the aftermath of 9/11.

Pakistan’s message to other member countries would be to engage constructively with the rest of the world to neutralize the image of Islam that equates it with extremism and terrorism.

There will also be emphatic calls for bridging the sharp divisions within the Muslim world. Candid discussions on disputes involving the Muslims around the world including Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir and Chechneya are also expected to come up at the summit.

Diplomats from key OIC member states including Saudi Arabia believe that given Pakistan’s geo-strategic position, it is uniquely poised to show the way forward to the Ummah. They say the fact that Pakistan is the only nuclear power in the Islamic world and it is a frontline state in the international war against terrorism, also gives it a special standing in the Islamic world that looks up to it for counsel and leadership.

The Pakistan delegation will include Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri, Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan, Additional Secretary (UN) Tariq Osman Hyder, director-general (OIC-UN) Tasnim Aslam and director-general (South Asia Division) Syed Ibne Abbas. Senator Mushahid Hussain, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Pakistan’s Representative to the CEP will also attend the Summit.