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The two-day 48th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, which was attended by as many as 40 foreign ministers and over 800 delegates from the OIC member states, concluded this week with a resolve to promote and protect the member states’ common interests, to support the just cause of Palestine, Kashmir and others, to unify efforts to address common challenges and leverage opportunities.

Though 140 resolutions, of which 20 were sponsored or co-sponsored by Pakistan, the moot resolved to uphold the rights and interests of Muslim minorities in non-OIC countries, pursue a shared vision for greater social, economic, scientific and technological development, integration within the Muslim world and beyond, security, humanitarian assistance, economy, plight of Muslim minorities, Islamophobia, arms control, terrorism, Covid-19, illicit financial flows, corruption, OIC reforms and so on.

It remains to be seen if any of these resolutions will go beyond the corridors of the conference and make a meaningful impact. The probability is that this is not likely to happen considering the fate of similar or much stronger resolutions on the rights and plight of the people of Kashmir and Palestine.

Regarding the resolution calling for upholding the rights and interests of Muslim minorities in non-OIC countries, the reality is that hardly any voice has been raised by OIC or any of the member country on the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar and the discrimination and hatred against Muslims in India. The resolution adopted by UN on Islamophobia was sponsored by Pakistan as an individual and not by the OIC per se.

Foreign Minister Qureshi however appeared optimistic and has stated: “Ministerial committee of OIC would work with other states to go beyond resolutions on Kashmir and chart the way forward”. Perhaps the take home for Pakistan out of the OIC conference is the invitation to the Chinese foreign minister to participate and address the OIC fraternity — to make inroads into the Muslim world. This is a diplomatic success that portrays Pakistan’s growing influence in the Muslim fraternity. In these times when the US and its allies are out to isolate China, the presence of China at the OIC forum — long being considered as the domain of the USA, would mean a lot to the former ‘Middle Kingdom’.

Significant also is the OIC secretary general’s invitation to All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, to the OIC meeting. This may sound symbolic but it sends a strong message to the world that Kashmir is not the internal matter of India but is an unresolved world issue.

OIC, established in September 1969, has so far failed to make a meaningful influence in global diplomacy, economy, research and higher education.

The Muslim states’ influence on world affairs and even their sovereignty ended with the demise of the Ottoman empire in 1922 when Turkey was declared a republic.

Thereafter, the British empire remained supreme with strong influence in world affairs till the Second World War, after which the USA took over with its influence prevailing worldwide including many affluent Muslim states. These Muslim states constitute Washington’s spheres of influence in different regions of the world.

The influence of the West over world affairs and the helplessness of the Muslim world can be well be judged from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While the UN and other world bodies rolled out one resolution after the other against Russia with a view to enforcing them within weeks, the UN resolutions on Palestinian, Kashmir and other injustices remain in cold storage since decades. Same goes for the OIC resolutions.

Till the time Muslim states remain content by surrendering their right and sovereignty in return for comforts, greed, protection by the powerful and short-term gains, the voice of the Muslim states will remain inaudible and meaningless.

(The writer is former President, Overseas Investors Chambers of Commerce and Industry)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

Farhat Ali

The writer is a former President, Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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