ISLAMABAD, Dec 22: Six countries have formally applied for observer status in the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and their requests await finalisation of the draft rules for accession of states to observer status.

“Congo, Liberia, Mauritius, the Philippines, South Africa and Sri Lanka have so far applied for observer status in the OIC, but their requests will be considered once the conditions for accession to observer status have been finalised,” a diplomat from a leading OIC country told Dawn

While India has informally informed some sympathetic OIC member states of its keen interest in obtaining the observer status in the pan-Islamic body, it has not yet formally applied for it.

Although with a large Muslim population India has a good case, a key impediment it faces is the provision in Article 3(e) of the Conditions for Accession to Observer Status at OIC that says: “A state applying for observer status shall not be in conflict with any of the OIC member states.”

The Jammu and Kashmir dispute with Pakistan hence makes the Indian quest for observer status difficult.

Under the OIC charter, a key condition for membership or observer status is that the applicant must be a Muslim state with the procedural requirement that application should be submitted and approved by two-thirds of the next foreign ministers conference. However, the OIC did make an exception in June last year by granting Russia the observer status at the 32nd ICFM in Sana’a with the support of key Muslim states, including Saudi Arabia.

The GCC countries, Turkey, Iran and central Asian republics also emphatically supported the Russian request. Pakistan, though initially reluctant, went along with it.

Officials from OIC countries were quick to point out that this move would not serve as a precedent for any other applicant state and in future such applications would require a unanimous approval.

This is evidenced by the fact that the subsequent joint bid by African countries to seek observer status for South Africa, which also had a strong support of the Arab bloc, did not succeed because it lacked unanimity. The OIC rules governing observer status are under review, however.

A meeting of the OIC Inter-governmental Group of Experts, in Jeddah in February, circulated a draft of proposed new rules for consideration at a meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, in June.

In a move probably aimed at completely blocking India’s entry into the OIC, Pakistan proposed that Article 3(e) be replaced with: a state applying for observer should have no dispute with an OIC member state, and in such case, unanimity is required.

Since a consensus could not be reached on it, the issue of observer status was referred back to the inter-governmental group of experts for further consideration. It is learnt that Pakistan also called for expediting the formulation of rules of membership and observer status, which would ensure that unlike the present rules, observers cannot automatically graduate to full membership.

At the Baku meeting, Congo, the Philippines and South Africa were invited as guests by Azerbaijan. The Philippines pursued its bid for observer status through a proposal by Indonesia, which did not succeed at the meeting. Apparently the OIC secretary-general opposed granting observer status to the Philippines till it delivered on the peace agreement. Even Malaysia vetoed it.

The OIC can give observer status to non-state entities such as international organisations, autonomous Muslim entities and Muslim communities in non-Muslim states.

Opinion

Editorial

Afghan challenge
Updated 15 Jul, 2024

Afghan challenge

Foreign states must emphasise to the Afghan Taliban diplomatic recognition and trade relations all depend on greater counterterrorism efforts.
‘Complete’ justice
15 Jul, 2024

‘Complete’ justice

NOW that the matter of PTI’s reserved seats stands resolved, there are several equally pressing issues pertaining...
Drug fog
15 Jul, 2024

Drug fog

THE country has an old drug problem. While the menace has raged across divides of class and gender, successive ...
Miles to go
Updated 14 Jul, 2024

Miles to go

Some reforms agreed with the Fund are going to seriously impact economic growth and fresh investments, at least in the short term.
Iddat ruling
14 Jul, 2024

Iddat ruling

IT was a needless, despicable spectacle which only ended up uniting both conservatives and progressives in ...
Cricket shake-up
14 Jul, 2024

Cricket shake-up

SOMEONE had to take the blame and bear the brunt of the fallout from Pakistan’s disastrous showing at the T20 ...